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Tips For Getting Kids To Enjoy Brushing Their Teeth

Tips For Getting Kids To Enjoy Brushing Their Teeth

Getting kids to brush their teeth can be a pain, especially when kids are new to brushing. Brushing twice a day for 2 minutes like the ADA recommends can be a hard sell. 

Nonetheless, good dental hygiene habits need to be established early on in childhood to keep teeth as healthy as possible. If you can get kids used to cleaning their teeth on a regular schedule, they’ll have much healthier teeth and gums throughout their life.  

With that in mind, here are some creative and clever ways to get your youngsters into brushing their teeth.  


Use Positive Association

Try to turn brushing into a game. Gamifying toothbrushing makes it so much easier to get kids to establish good habits. 

Have you ever said something like, “I’ll time how fast you can take the garbage out to the road?” It works because it turns a chore into a game with measurable results.

The same goes for brushing.  Ritualize and gamify brushing teeth in order to make it less of a fight and more of a fun activity. The positive association makes any habit more permanent and easy to do.

An example of a tooth brushing “game”:

Use commercial breaks in their favorite shows as a timer for brushing.  Each commercial is 30 seconds, which is the perfect amount of time for brushing each quadrant.  Four commercials is enough for a 2-minute brush. The deed is done by the time the show is back on.

This makes it so your child associates their favorite show with brushing their teeth.  The reward of watching TV comes with the chore of brushing their teeth. Everyone wins.


Manage Expectations 

Kids have sensitive mouths. They need to know there is nothing to be afraid of even though it might feel strange.  

We don’t feel it so much as adults, but there are a lot of anxiety-producing sensory stimuli involved in toothbrushing. Managing their expectations helps to reduce the stress that comes with sensitivity to new feelings.

Reading books and watching videos about toothbrushing helps prep them for what’s coming. Morning and bedtime routines are also important for creating normalcy around ticklish feelings.

Talk about how the brush might tickle their teeth and discuss the flavor of the delicious new toothpaste. Let really young kids gnaw on brushes without paste to get used to the feel of the brush in their mouths.


Use Play to Teach

Encourage your child to brush their toys’ teeth, like a stuffed animal or an action figure. This helps normalize the new behavior and reduce anxiety.

However, be sure to talk to children about not putting the play brush in their own mouths. We don’t want to normalize sharing toothbrushes.


Reward Good Brushing Behavior

Whether it’s a daily chart that gets a gold star for every brushing, or a privilege like picking out a bedtime story, it’s important to reinforce good brushing habits with rewards.

Pay attention to what your child responds to and set up a reward system that will encourage them to follow through with their routines.  



Keeping your kids’ teeth healthy doesn’t have to be a battle.  Everything goes more smoothly when you use positive association, play, and rewards to encourage kids to stick to their routines.

Prep kids, normalize brushing, and positively reinforce them when they stick to their routines. 

When combined with professional care, their good brushing habits will help keep their teeth healthy and strong throughout their lives.




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