Oh, the struggle is real! Getting kids to care for their teeth sometimes feels like an impossible battle.

Even as a Dental Professional I understand first-hand, the struggle that is trying to get your children to clean their teeth twice a day. There are evenings where we all want to give up on the night time routine.

Instead, here are some helpful hacks to get those little ones in the bathroom and brushing!

Tip 1 – Start early

As soon as your child’s first tooth erupts start brushing with a baby toothbrush and water, create a healthy habit. By starting straight away, not only do you reduce their risk of decay but you also start de-sensitising them to the feeling and functions of a toothbrush. With this routine, your child will quickly realise this is part of their day and you are setting them up for better long term oral health outcomes.

Tip 2 – Let them have independence

Whilst children don’t usually have the manual dexterity to brush their teeth by themselves until around 8 years of age, it’s important to let them have a go. Let them brush first, and then you re-brush to remove any missed plaque.

Tip 3 – Make it a family event

Children always want to mimic their older siblings or parents. By everyone brushing their teeth at the same time it creates healthy family habits and solid routines, whilst also showing the younger ones it is something that everyone needs to do!

Tip 4 – Music or a timer

Whilst some children are keen to brush their teeth, they usually think that 15 seconds is long enough. Research shows that a minimum of two minutes is needed for proper brushing. Egg timers are a fun way to show just how long you need. In our house, we play our current favourite song on my phone in the bathroom, and brush for the duration of the song together – we may or may not bust a move at the same time…

Tip 5 – Plaque disclosing at home

On previous visits to your dentist you may have had the plaque disclosed on your teeth. This highlights any undetected build-up, and reveals problem areas. You can buy tablets to use at home for this very purpose, available at your family dental surgery or some chemists. Your child brushes their teeth first and then they chew the tablet up and rinse. Once they have rinsed, wherever there is colour there is plaque – I explain to my kids this is the germs they have missed. Plaque is very hard to see, so the tablets help kids learn where the plaque is and once it is visualised, it is easier for them to understand why they need to brush. I also plaque disclose with my kids as a competition, whoever has the least plaque wins!

Tip 6 – Books

There are many books available for young children about looking after their teeth, even touching on those first visits to the dental surgery. Have a read, it’s a really fun way to start conversations about oral health.

Tip 7 – Regular visits to the dental practice

By regularly attending a dental practice, your children will be screened for oral health problems and potential diseases, as well as receiving encouragement to keep on brushing! After the oral hygiene check, your dentist or dental hygienist will remove all the bacteria in your mouth with the ‘AIRFLOW Dental Spa’ using AIRFLOW technology. AIRFLOW is a combination of high-pressure air, fine powder and warm water that creates a spray to gently clean your teeth without physically touching them. Imagine a spa treatment but for your mouth!

To find your closest AIRFLOW Dental Spa dental practice visit: airflowdentalspa.com.au.

Your dental health professional will help reinforce the above messages for use at home, and as we already annoyingly know, our children often respond better to a third party rather than their parents.

How do you encourage your kids to care for their teeth? Tell us in the comments below.

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  • I have all girls and all of them have always been good at caring for their teeth


  • My daughter is a star when it comes to teeth brushing. My son turns it into a blood sport trying to get away and uses his favourite word NOOOOOO


  • I didn’t really struggle to get my kids to brush their teeth, I did it myself probably until they were school age. What I did struggle with was getting them to do a thourough job. Brush in brush out two seconds flat, done! NOT!!!


  • We started before the first tooth erupted. Baby one took to it like breathing. Baby 2 wasn’t a big fan.we had to try many different approaches and constantly change them. He wanted to brush my teeth, whilst I did his. He would brush the grout in the shower with a scrub brush, whilst I did his teeth. Then we had to count his teeth while brushing. Now at 4 he is FINALLY brushing his teeth properly but won’t allow us to help.


  • Definitely good tips. I’m lucky that my son likes brushing his teeth.


  • Luckily my kids are really good at brushing their teeth I haven’t had any issues with this since they were young.


  • I struggle to get my kids doing it properly and now that I’m working full time there’s just no time to watch them we’re always rushed!


  • I tried everything – different brushes, different toothpastes, then went with the electric option, until we found what worked.


  • We always brush our teeth together which makes him want to do it


  • My daughter has a 2 minute timer for brushing her teeth and she loves it!! She loves watching it and making sure she brushes well before the time is up.


  • My kids toothbrush had a timer on it so that always helped


  • You can get kids toothbrushes from the reject shop that have a light timer and the best thing is they are only a couple of $$
    I need to get some new ones tomorrow so I will edit this pot to inc. the pic and price.

    • Further to my comment here is the picture of the Toothbrushes you can get from the Reject Shop for $2


  • Isn’t this just a normal daily routine rather than a struggle?


  • I’ve heard about the plaque disclosing, it’s been around for years
    We use to sing songs while brushing, made it fun for my youngest


  • I have not heard about the plaque disclosing either, will look into that


  • Intrigued about the plaque things, I may have to get it


  • We did all of the above things and both my kids still give us grief at teeth brushing time. It does my head in!


  • Great adviced. We started very early with both of our kids. My 3yo loves brushing teeth…and happy to get our help.my 20 months old is on that stage when she wants to do everything by herself….


  • I started brushing teeth before they even had teeth and took them to the dentist since their first teeth erupted. I think it also is important to make it fun and made up a song we always sang whilst brushing teeth. I also had a nice wee story book about brushing teeth . My 9yr old struggles to brush her teeth regularly and I made a fact sheet of the effects of skipping to brush your teeth.


  • I am lucky my 2 and 4 year olds love brushing their teeth. Some good tips for those who struggle.


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