What Can Parents Do to Get Kids to Want to Brush Their Teeth?

Kids aren’t always enthusiastic about brushing their teeth. Just like when getting your kids to eat vegetables or to clean their rooms, you may struggle to get them to brush their teeth willingly 1. However, it is possible to change their attitudes. A solid routine and an understanding of the importance of good oral hygiene can make kids happy to brush their teeth. Your attitude about the task also plays a major role.

Establish a Brushing Routine

When brushing his teeth is a habit, your child is less likely to view it as a chore, and you won’t have to nag him to do it. Establish a schedule for tooth brushing, such as every day after breakfast and again before bed, and stick to it. When your child is brushing at regular times every single day, then the task becomes part of his routine, and he is less likely to forget or put it off.

Be a Good Role Model

The best way to get your kids to want to brush their teeth is to show the right attitude yourself 12. If you are excited about brushing your teeth, then your kids will be too 1. Brush your teeth at the same times each day, and invite your child to brush her teeth with you. Encourage your child to imitate what you do. When it looks like it's enjoyable to Mom and Dad, kids are more likely to want to do it too.

Provide the Right Tools

Part of making brushing fun instead of a chore is having the right tools. Let your children choose their toothpaste. Younger children should use toothpaste formulated for them, because adult toothpastes are usually too strong for their tastes. While they choose which toothpaste they want to use, have your children choose their toothbrush as well. They may want one like yours or they may choose a toothbrush in a favorite color or featuring a favorite television or storybook character. Give your child an egg timer as well, and allow him to set the time himself. Children should brush their teeth for at least two minutes 2. This can seem like a long time, but when your child is using tools he likes, the time flies by because he’s happy to do it.

Demonstrate the Consequences of Not Brushing

Discuss with your child why brushing is important, but keep the discussion age-appropriate. For example, an 11-year-old child can understand the dangers of sugar and plaque, but a younger child of 5 might require a more simplified explanation. For example, dental hygienist Kim Czerwonka tells Canadian Living magazine that some dentists use the sugar bug story, explaining that the sugar bugs left on your teeth after eating will make holes called cavities 1. A cavity must be filled by the dentist to prevent it from decaying further. If your kids are still reluctant to brush, Czerwonka recommends that parents use a dissolving agent, which is available at pharmacies and dentist’s offices, to show them the plaque that lingers on their teeth 1. The dissolving agents are usually in tablet form. Your child chews the tablet and it colors the areas of the tooth covered in plaque. When your child brushes, the color disappears, along with the plaque.