Learning to Brush

From around the age of four to five children should begin to learn how to brush and care for their own teeth. Children do not have the skills to properly clean their own teeth until around eight years of age, so until then, tooth brushing should be a combined effort by you and your child. The teeth should be brushed in the morning and at night.

Choose a position where you can easily see your child’s mouth. For example, sit your child on your lap or stand behind your child with their head tilted back slightly.

Move the toothbrush gently in small circles to clean the front surfaces of your child’s teeth. To reach inner surfaces, tilt the toothbrush. Avoid side-to-side scrubbing, which can damage your child’s teeth and gums. Brush the biting and grinding surfaces of back teeth with a firm back and forth motion, and be sure to clean every surface of every tooth.

In total, you should aim to brush for about two minutes. It will take time for your child to allow you to clean their teeth for that length of time, however it’s important that their teeth are brushed twice a day, working up to two minutes as they get older.

Replace toothbrushes every three months or when bristles appear frayed. Frayed bristles are not effective at removing plaque and may scratch your child’s gums.

Did you know?

Plaque-disclosing tablets or drops (available from your dentist or pharmacist) contain food dye that turns plaque pink or red. Using these can be a fun way to help you and your child to see if the brushing technique you are using removes plaque from every tooth surface.