How to Get Children to Brush Their Teeth Every Day

It's common for some children to refuse to brush their teeth. So, how can you get them to brush their teeth every day? Keep reading!
How to Get Children to Brush Their Teeth Every Day
Vanesa Evangelina Buffa

Written and verified by the dentist Vanesa Evangelina Buffa.

Last update: 05 December, 2022

It’s common for some children to resist and refuse to do the activities that we ask them to do. As soon as the first tooth appears, it’s crucial to start brushing it. And, as more teeth appear, it’s essential to maintain a habit of cleaning the whole mouth. Otherwise, the risk of disease increases. Here are some strategies for children who don’t want to brush their teeth every day to increase their interest in this healthy habit.

Maintaining an oral hygiene routine isn’t always easy. Children often don’t want to brush their teeth, while older children and adolescents may forget or rebel against oral hygiene. Therefore, accompanying and teaching your children the importance of taking care of their mouth is your job, even though it can be difficult.

Toothbrushing in children

Before focusing on strategies to make children want to brush their teeth every day, it’s important to understand a few aspects of brushing. Understanding why it’s done and how it’s done according to the age of the little one will help you.

Cleaning your baby’s gums

The oral cavity should begin to be sanitized before the first teeth appear. To do this, you should wipe the baby’s gums with a clean wet gauze or a silicone cotton swab. This way, your little one gets used to having a clean mouth from an early age.

Use a soft string brush

When the first tooth appears, it’s time to start cleaning it with a soft bristle brush and fluoride toothpaste. Only a small smear of paste, smaller than the size of a grain of rice, should be used. As all the baby teeth come in, adults should take care to clean the child’s teeth every day, at least twice a day.

A toddler brushing her teeth.
Just like the teeth and gums, the tongue should also be cleaned. For the entire process, it’s best to use a soft toothbrush and fluoride paste.

Cleaning the tongue

You should try to clean each of the sides of all the teeth in your child’s mouth. It’s useful to follow an order in order not to forget any section. Finally, the tongue should also be cleaned and the child should be asked to spit out the toothpaste instead of swallowing it.

Prevent diseases

Parents should clean their children’s teeth until they’re able to do it by themselves, which happens around the age of 6 or 8 years old. After that, they should accompany the practice, that is, remember and supervise the brushing time.

Not sanitizing your child’s mouth increases the risk of oral diseases, such as cavities and gingivitis. Although baby teeth fall out and are replaced, they play a fundamental role during childhood. For this reason, it’s key that adults take care of them.

Strategies to make children want to brush their teeth every day

Now you know the right way to clean your child’s mouth. However, your child may be one of those kids who resist brushing their teeth, and you need to follow some of these tips to motivate them.

Let them participate

While adults do the actual brushing, one way to get kids to want to brush their teeth is to let them do some of the work. Giving them a toothbrush to use themselves and play with is a way to familiarize them with the activity and increase their interest.

Another option is for the child to start the job and then the parents finish the brushing. This way, the child participates in taking care of their own body and feels responsible for themself. You can also go to the grocery store or drugstore and let them choose their own toothbrush and toothpaste. This can motivate them to want to use them in their mouth.

Use a mirror

Many times, little ones don’t see what’s going on inside their mouth while brushing their teeth. Placing them in front of the mirror, showing them how it’s done and explaining why it’s important will motivate them to cooperate with brushing. Looking in the mirror, opening their mouth wide, and even making faces while brushing can become a fun moment.

A father and son looking in the mirror as they both brush their teeth.
Brushing teeth in front of the mirror is a good option to encourage children to brush their teeth. In addition, you can play some games that make the moment more fun.

Use stories and songs

Telling stories or buying books about brushing teeth can help children understand the importance of taking care of their hygiene.

Also, during brushing time, you can sing or play a song about oral hygiene that your child likes. Listening to it every day while they clean their teeth will make the situation special and fun. In addition, the rhythm and duration of the music can be used to indicate the amount of time to keep brushing.


Playfulness is a good ally when it comes to motivating little ones. For example, you can play by counting teeth or make up names for them as you clean them. Then, when the children are older, you can invent challenges, such as using plaque-disclosing tablets and taking the time to clean all the teeth well.

Reward your little one

Making a table of objectives and marking each time brushing is done allows you to add up points in exchange for a reward at the end of the week. It’s worth clarifying that the reward should not be a sweet that threatens oral health. For example, offering a good night story in exchange for going to bed with a clean mouth is an excellent motivation. Older children can be rewarded for brushing by giving them permission to watch an episode of their favorite series.

Creativity and perseverance to make children want to brush their teeth every day

Oral hygiene is a habit that’s built with perseverance and a lot of patience on the part of parents. There will be days when children are more willing to brush their teeth than others.

Understanding the role of the adult in the oral health care of their children is key in order not to neglect it. Accompanying the child with respect, explaining and teaching them about the need to keep their teeth clean, and looking for alternatives so that this moment is fun and enjoyable is part of your task.

The key to keeping your child’s mouth healthy lies in your willingness and perseverance. With your creativity and ingenuity, you’ll surely find the most convenient way to help your children brush their teeth.

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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.