Mother's Day - 13 tips to help those fussy rugrats (and teens) brush!

Happy Mother's Day to all the mums from Northbridge Dentists! 

We thought it may be useful to reflect on how to help little ones co-operate when it's time for them to brush their teeth. Here are some useful ideas;

Toddlers: 18months-3yrs

  • Give control: Some toddlers feel a loss of control when a toothbrush is pushed into their mouth. Allowing them to put a hand on their toothbrush may be enough to let you carry on
  • Demonstration: Using your own toothbrush, brush along with your toddler. Even try demonstrating on a doll or teddy first!
  • Pick a favourite toothpaste: They may dislike the taste of the toothpaste. Try a few types to find a favourite. 
  • Have a “fun” toothbrush: As long as it has a small head and soft bristles, some can have action figures, some vibrate. If it’s fun, go for it!
  • Play or sing a song: Playing their favourite nursery rhyme or song and brushing along to the rhythm may help. 
  • Start shorter: Two minutes is a long time when you’re a toddler! Start with 30-60secs and build-up to two minutes. 

Little Kids 3-5yrs

If the toddler ideas don’t help;

  • Rewards and charts: Starting a “brushing chart” where they get a star for each time they brush, may encourage them to do the right thing. Click HERE to select from a range of downloadable brushing charts. At the end of the week, if they get all the stars then they get a small reward. If you’re lucky, the stars will be their own reward!
  • Use a timer: This helps them to brush for the full two minutes. Some timers play a song for the two minutes. Some play a song at the end of the two minutes. 
  • Role Play: Sticking little cartoons of bugs and slime on their teddies or dolls and then brushing them off may help to communicate "cleaning away bugs." 

What about teenagers??

Most teens aren’t looking to the future and so they will see oral hygiene as more of a hassle. Here are a few tips which may help for the reluctant teen:

  • Don’t stand over or watch your teen while they brush. This is likely to be met with more firm or even fiery resistance.
  • Pitch your message: MOST teens are far more vain and respond to the message of bad breath, bleeding gums, yellow and plaque covered teeth or even missing and crooked teeth. Ewwww.
  • Visuals: Some teens may respond to the understanding that oral neglect causes cavities, pain, root canal, gum disease and general health problems. However showing pictures of these issues (often your dentist can help you with that), may help to spur your teen into action. 
  • Rewards: Simple rewards for a week of brushing may include some pocket money for a movie or lunch with friends. Eventually they will realise good oral hygiene is its own reward (hopefully). 


Your friendly Northbridge Dentists team has a wealth of information at their fingertips and are happy to help with even more ideas. 

So happy Mother's Day to all the mums out there. May you have a wonderful day and best wishes from all of us at Northbridge Dentists.