Tooth Brushing Tips for Children

Effective tooth brushing is key to healthy teeth and gums, but many children lack the skills to do the job properly. Milk teeth are particularly susceptible to decay, which causes toothaches that require dental treatment, so it’s a good idea to train your children early in good tooth brushing habits. With your help, they can learn how to clean every part of every tooth, and how to keep up the habit on a daily basis. Here are some simple guidelines to share with them at these times.

The Toothbrush

Children need a toothbrush with soft bristles and that comfortably fits their mouth. Keep an eye on the condition of the toothbrush and replace it with a new one as soon as the bristles begins to lose their shape.


Provide your children with good quality fluoride toothpaste and discourage overuse. Be sure not to use fluoride toothpaste before your child is old enough to “spit” out the toothpaste; fluoride shouldn’t be swallowed.

A pea-sized blob of toothpaste, as that is all they need. After brushing, show them how to swill out thoroughly, using fresh water.


Explain to your children that they need to brush every part of their teeth – the outsides, the insides and the flat parts they chew with. Show them how to tilt the brush to reach the different areas, partly closing the mouth to access the back teeth.

A common mistake in brushing is to sweep the food particles along, rather than away from the gums. Help your children brush upwards from the lower jaw and downwards from the upper one for effective cleaning. It may be hard at first, but they’ll soon get to grips with this method. You could show them an online demonstration for extra help.


Begin teaching flossing habits as early as 6 or 7. Your dentist can tell you when your child is ready for flossing and recommend how often.

Floss for them at first so they know get used to how flossing feels and where to floss. Encourage this process so flossing also becomes part of their brushing “habit.”

Habit-forming Schedule

Dentists recommend brushing teeth twice a day, so make this a family rule in your home. Children will soon get into the habit of brushing after breakfast and before bed, once a custom is firmly established. This will ensure they go off to school with fresh breath and a sparkling smile, and they’ll have a pleasant taste and clean feel to go to sleep with, too. More importantly, the twice-a-day habit will keep their teeth in prime condition.

Dentist Check-ups

Schedule regular dental check-ups so cavities are prevented or can at least be caught and treated early. Regular dental childhood cleanings will encourage a lifelong commitment.

A wholesome, balanced diet is essential for healthy teeth and gums, so try to provide plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables and other nutritious food for your children. Avoid sugary desserts, snacks and drinks as much as possible; sugar is notorious for causing tooth decay.

What better way to support your children’s futures than to save them the pain, misery and expense of dental problems? By teaching your kids good tooth care habits, you’ll be doing them a favor for life.

Parent Resources

Share a video, like this one, about brushing with your child to help them see the proper way to brush.

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