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How can I Teach My Child How to Properly Brush Their Teeth?

Brushing teeth with dad

Proper brushing habits at a young age can set the stage for a lifetime of good oral health.

When should your children start brushing their own teeth?

Children may be able to start brushing their own teeth when they’re about 6-8 years old. You’ll still need to check to make sure they’re doing it well and for the appropriate amount of time (for at least two minutes). You should also check their teeth to make sure they’re not missing any areas of the mouth, such as the hard-to-reach back teeth.

What steps are involved in proper brushing and flossing?

Brushing should be thorough – covering each tooth and taking a minimum of two minutes. It should include the following steps:

  • Hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the gum line
  • Move the brush back and forth gently in tooth-wide strokes
  • Be sure to cover the outer, inner, and chewing surfaces of the teeth
  • To reach the inside surfaces of the front teeth, tilt the brush vertically and use up-and-down strokes
  • Brush the tongue and the roof of the mouth from back to front

In addition, your child’s toothbrush should have soft bristles and be changed 3-4 times a year.

Flossing should be done once a day using the following steps:

  • Put about 18 inches of floss around the middle fingers of each hand, pinching it between the thumb and index finger
  • Using a clean piece of the floss for each tooth, insert it between two teeth. Curve it around each tooth and move it up and down.

If children find regular floss too difficult to use, floss picks are often easier to handle.

What are some ways to make brushing fun for kids?

These tips can help make brushing for fun for kids:


  • Don’t brush in silence: Play your child’s favorite song while he or she brushes or pull out some crazy dance moves. You could also read a story that takes about two minutes.
  • Plan some rewards: Reward your child for good brushing behavior. The rewards can be as simple as a chart with a sticker for every time she brushes or the chance to choose which bedtime story you read.
  • Let your child choose: Let your child pick their toothbrush and toothpaste. Having a favorite character on your toothbrush or a favorite fun flavor of toothpaste can help make brushing their teeth more fun.
  • Model good behavior: When your child is old enough to brush his own teeth, model good behavior by brushing at the same time if you have a double sink. If not, you can take turns going first.

If your child needs dental care, make an appointment today with Park View Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics NYC. Our staff specializes in gentle care that will help children get the care they need in a fun and friendly atmosphere. From our beautiful views of Central Park to our activity-filled office, we’ve designed our practice to make you and your child as comfortable as possible.

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