How to Help Children Brush Their Teeth without Losing Your Temper

Let's talk about the importance of helping young children brush their teeth. And, how you can do it without losing your temper.
How to Help Children Brush Their Teeth without Losing Your Temper

Last update: 29 July, 2021

Adults are the ones who should help children brush their teeth. However, this task may be a bit complicated if children don’t cooperate with their own oral hygiene.

Even though it might seem difficult at first, it’s worth the effort. This is because proper oral hygiene helps prevent diseases and complications. Besides, it improves children’s quality of life and fosters a proper development of mouth functions.

In order to succeed at this, it’s important to avoid losing your temper and becoming frustrated. In this article, we’ll give you some useful advice on how to help children brush their teeth. After reading this, it’ll be simpler for them to adopt this habit.

Why is it important to help children brush their teeth?

The oral cavity plays a very important role in children’s life: talking, chewing, and eating are actions that rely on this structure. Therefore, oral hygiene is essential for children to avoid diseases and to promote the proper development of their mouth functions.

Preventing cavities is one of our main goals when helping our children brush their teeth. In fact, cavities are very common during childhood and they can result in serious consequences.

Some of the most common consequences are tooth decay and loss, pain, infection risks, and low self-esteem because of the appearance of their smile.

Girl brushing her teeth.

Furthermore, oral hygiene helps prevent tartar buildup, bad breath, and gingivitis. This is why oral health care must begin the day children are born. 

In order to do this, children should brush their teeth properly, use a fluoride paste, follow a low-sugar diet, and visit the dentist regularly. Next, we’ll talk about some aspects you should take into account when helping children brush their teeth.

How to help children brush their teeth

Oral hygiene must start even before teething. In fact, you should start taking care of it when your child is a baby, using a wet cloth on their gums and tongue. This will help eliminate remaining milk, food, or bacteria.

When babies are between six and ten months old, their first teeth start erupting, and this is the perfect time to start brushing their teeth. Besides, you can use a bit of fluoride paste (the size of a rice grain).

Adults are the ones in charge of brushing children’s teeth properly (cleaning all the teeth and the tongue) with soft movements. Once teeth get in touch with their neighbors, it’s time to use dental floss. However, the dentist will give you the best advice regarding its use and the time to start using it.

When children are between two to three years old, they learn to spit. Then, it’ll be time to use more toothpaste (the size of a lentil). And, you must remember to tell them they should spit the paste and not swallow it.

The best toothbrush according to a child’s age

You must start using toothbrushes once babies’ first teeth erupt, and not before. Here, you’ll find some suggestions to choose the right toothbrush for your child:

  • Small head: this will allow the toothbrush to clean all the different areas in the mouth.
  • Soft nylon bristle: it helps eliminate bacterial plaque without hurting the mouth.
  • Comfortable handle: since parents are in charge of brushing their children’s teeth, they should look for a handle they find comfortable.

In addition, you should make sure the toothbrush you pick has undergone quality-control tests and has a seal of acceptance. Another important characteristic to take into account is your child’s age. This is because brands sell different products according to their age.

If you ask your child to help you choose their toothbrush, you’ll be motivating them to take care of their oral health.

What kind of toothpaste should you use?

Nowadays, specialists recommend fluoride toothpaste since the day children start brushing their teeth. Toothpaste which contains between 1,000 to 1,400 parts of fluoride per million has a preventive effect. You’ll find this information on the toothpaste packaging. And, this is something you should pay attention to.

Family brushing their teeth.

The amount of toothpaste you’ll put on the toothbrush will depend on your child’s age and their ability to spit. At first, when they’re very young, they don’t know how to do it. Therefore, you should put a small amount of paste (the size of a rice grain).

Once they turn three years old, you’ll be able to use more paste (the size of a pea). However, you’ll have to make sure children spit the paste. Remember that it’ll be your responsibility to put the toothpaste on the toothbrush. 

Remember to pay attention to the flavor of the toothpaste and to choose a toothbrush with your children’s favorite character. This will motivate them to take care of their oral hygiene.

Tips to avoid losing your temper

We’ve already talked about the kind of toothbrush you should choose. We’ve also mentioned the toothpaste you should use and when to start brushing your children’s teeth. However, since helping your children brush their teeth may be quite chaotic, we’ll give you some tips to do it without losing your temper:

  • Adults are the ones in charge of brushing their child’s teeth: children can play and practice, but adults will be responsible for their oral hygiene.
  • You should follow an efficient technique: you should try to clean all the parts of the teeth. Furthermore, following an order will help you cover all the different areas of the mouth. If your children are too young and don’t cooperate, you can open their mouths using your fingers.
  • Use a comfortable position: both of you should be comfortable while doing this. Some parents prefer to sit their children on their laps. This way, you’ll be behind them and it might be easier to do it. Other parents prefer to be in front of their children. You should try different positions and choose the one that’s best for you.
  • Be patient: don’t get angry with your children. At first, they may cry or put up resistance. Remember that love and patience are the best tools to make them cooperate. In addition, you can sing songs, give them rewards or show them how you do it. Besides, explaining what you’re about to do and why you’ll do it is a very good idea, too. You can even read them a story or watch a video about it, and then, you can practice with a doll.

When can children brush their teeth on their own?

When children are six years old, they already have the proper psychomotor skills to brush their teeth on their own. However, this doesn’t mean adults should stop helping them with their oral hygiene.

Dad brushing his teeth.

On the contrary, adults should motivate their children to brush their teeth on their own, monitoring what they’re doing properly. So, they’ll be in charge of teaching and controlling the process. They must check their children are using the toothpaste properly and that they spit it.

Besides, they’ll have to remind children to brush their teeth and insist on doing it constantly.

“Brushing their teeth properly will help children avoid cavities and suffer from periodontal disease. This is why it’s essential to teach children to brush their teeth in an effective way”.

-Unicef Ecuador-

Once children are six years old, they can brush their teeth on their own, and parents can help them once in a while. This way, children will adopt the habit and parents will make sure they do it properly.

Once children are eight years old, they’re ready to do it on their own every time. However, adults should always monitor them and help them in case they need it. 

Promote a healthy habit

Taking your time to teach children to brush their teeth will be very good for their future. Even if they cry or put up resistance at first, adopting this habit will be beneficial for their whole life. You won’t only help them take care of their oral hygiene, they’ll learn to take care of their bodies for the rest of their lives.



All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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