Happy Teeth tips for reluctant toothbrushers

Cartoon tooth brushing itself Stock Vector - 11934913

It happens to most parents at some point, it’s a Monday morning, you’re rushing about to make sure that little ones have their homework, packed lunch, are dressed in a clean and pressed uniform, a nutritious breakfast prepared, not to mention getting yourself up washed dressed and prepared for work. The last thing you need is a reluctant brusher!

For many children, tooth brushing is a chore which makes it difficult for parents to convince them to brush their teeth.

A report published by Aquafresh titled ‘Inside Brushtime’ revealed that 80% of children throw temper tantrums and experience anger at brushtime, meaning that 1 in 10 parents are sending their children out to school/bed without brushing their teeth. Just over 25% of parents surveyed said they do not believe their children brush their teeth correctly and just under half of the parents asked confessed they have to force their children to clean their teeth!!!



Top tips to encourage better brush time

Brush with your child.

Children always want to grow up faster thinking that life is somehow better as an adult. With this aspiration to grow up, they often enjoy imitating what they see adults doingso that they can feel as though they’re more grown up. Let them watch you cleaning your teeth in the morning and night. Great habits are caught, not taught!

family brushing

 Make brush time fun time to enjoy together.

Choose a time when you are relaxed-not rushing to get to school or the office or tired at the end of a long day. Brush your own teeth at the same time they’re brushing theirs. Take it in turns to brush each other’s teeth (prepare for mess). Encourage your child to open wide like a roaring lion dinosaur. Have fun with it, the bathroom can be a real family room to encourage good habits.

Show and tell them what you want them to do. Explain to your child what do do rather than what not to do.

Parents find giving negative instructions stressful and children tend to respond better to positive instructions over negative. So instead of saying, don’t forget to brush your back teeth’ say ‘remember to clean your back teeth’. Rather than saying ‘don’t rush’ say ‘take your time and feel each tooth’.


Sometimes we tend to focus on what our children aren’t doing well and give attention for behaviour we want to discourage eg. ‘you aren’t cleaning your teeth properly’. When you see them holding their toothbrush concentrating on holding and squeezing out their toothpaste and making an effort-praise them! Describe what you’re seeing them do and be specific as you can-they will be much more likely to do it again.


Use apps, egg timers, toothbrushes with timer/music/ lights, songs to play while brushing and dancing.

Children have a very different concept of time than us. They may find it useful to use brushing apps, an egg timer or a musical toothbrush to help them understand how long they’re supposed to brush for . Star charts and stickers can work really well as motivation for young children

toothbrush timers

 Give choice and responsibility!

When you are teaching them say to them, would you like to clean your teeth first or put on your pyjamas? If children are in control making the choice, they are much more likely to make it happen

Get into the habit of using when and then.

When you have cleaned your teeth, we can have a story’ rather than ‘if you don’t do this you can’t have that’.

Share books that involve teeth cleaning stories

There are lots of books about cleaning teeth and often visual aids really do help in practicing especially with pictures of little ones’ favourite characters. One of our favourites is Peppa Pig which also has a song to help encourage active brushing.




For many children, toothbrushing is seen as a chore that they don’t want to do. As a parent it’s your responsibility to ensure your child’s good oral health. While it may seem like a difficult challenge, it doesn’t have to be. These tips will help you to convince your child to brush their teeth so they can achieve a healthy smile and happy teeth!

Georgie happy Teeth.jpg

Please leave a comment if any of our tips helped or if you have any other tips for reluctant brushers!