Teaching Your Children to Brush Their Teeth


kids-brush-teethWe go through this every few months. I can tell the Sweet Peanut is doing a drive by brushing on her teeth. I see tiny remnants from dinner and her toothbrush is barely damp.

It means it’s time to call in the reinforcements and have a brushing teeth refresher.  Well Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither are good tooth brushing habits. I know it took me a while.

What methods do you take when teaching your child to brush their teeth?

We homeschool with Bob Jones DVD homeschool and I love that since the preschool course they have gone through a tooth brushing series in Science class. What can happen when you don’t brush. How long to brush. Where exactly to brush. And how your teeth change as you grow.

It’s been wonderful but still we’ve had to use other tools to help our daughter get the idea.

As I said in an earlier post on kids and dental care the Peanut has been visiting the dentist since she was about 2. She gets a great bill of health every time and new tools (such as timers, floss, paste, toothbrush) to encourage her healthy brushing habits.

But I know some things take longer to drive home. She’ll even admit that she would like so more help and I spend a few days going over the correct method with her using her (expensive) electric toothbrush with the 2 minute timer.

Letting Your Child Brush Their Own Teeth.

At what age did you let your child begin brushing their teeth on their own? Some experts are divided on what age your child can begin to brush on his or her own.  Some suggest that you brush for your child until he or she turns six. Others suggest that at age three your child can begin to brush under your guidance and that at age four your child should be able to brush daily and nightly on their own. I’ve moved the age up to ten.

Here are a few guidelines (with my own added commentary) for teaching your children how to brush their teeth:

Birth to Age One:

  • Dentists recommend that parents begin gently washing a baby’s gums with gauze or a washcloth daily to prevent the spread of bacteria.
  • When that first pearly white that pokes through, a special baby toothbrush will polish that beautiful tooth as you gaze lovingly at it.
  • Very young children may not be able to spit out the toothpaste. If you’re concerned that your child isn’t able to do this, just use a soft baby toothbrush and gently brush with water.
  • Apply a dollop of paste to a soft baby toothbrush, give the tooth/teeth a good brush, and help your child to rinse and spit. Usually two-year-olds are able to do this.
  • Once your child’s teeth begin touching, you can begin to gently floss between their teeth. Strive for every night, but at minimum, floss twice per week.

Ages Two to Six:

  • Help your child angle the toothbrush to get all of their teeth and gums.
  • Guide your child’s hand to move the brush back and forth. Be sure they get the front, back and top of their teeth.
  • Experts suggest that children brush their teeth for two minutes, twice a day. And like I said, the old wives’ tale that a round of “Old McDonald” or the Alphabet song is a good way to measure that the child has completed two minutes’ worth of brushing is a good way to prevent your child from a quick dab-and-dash job. However, it doesn’t usually hit the two-minute mark until you’ve brushed your way through cows, chicks, goats, pigs, horses, dogs, cats, roosters, farmers…


* Your child’s toothbrush should be age appropriate. A baby toothbrush for those first teeth, a toddler toothbrush for your toddler and so on. The bristles should be soft and the size and shape should allow your child to reach each area of the mouth.

* Replace your child’s toothbrush every 3-4 months or after your child has been ill.

* Fluoride is important, but baby toothpaste does not contain fluoride because it can be dangerous if they swallow it. Wait until your dentist says it’s ok to start using fluoride toothpaste, and then be sure to keep it and other items containing fluoride, such as mouthwash, away from your child.

* Concerned about whether your child is reaching every area? I was. Purchase some dental disclosing tablets, found online and at some drugstores, can show you any plaque that remains after brushing.

Teaching your children to brush their teeth is an important part of life and helps to build a foundation for healthy hygiene habits. With a few simple tips, your child will be on his or her way to a healthy mouth.

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