3 Practical Methods For Getting Your Child To Brush Their Teeth

Mom& Daughter

Getting your kids to brush their teeth can be a tough chore for some parents. Dr. Steven Pike explains 3 methods parents can try that will not only help your child to brush their teeth but can also be fun!

Dr. Pike Dentistry has been serving Portland and Beaverton children for over 40 years! If you would like to schedule an appointment or have questions, give us call (503) 297-1711

Video Transcription

Hi, this is Dr. Steven Pike and I would like to talk to you about how to get your kids to brush their teeth every day.

Every day parents say it’s such a struggle, my kids dread it, I don’t like doing it. I would like to give you some ideas on techniques that you can use on a regular basis that should make life much easier.

There are three concepts that work very well. Model the behavior, use role playing games and do a think through problem-solving session with your kids.

#1 Model The Behavior

The first concept is to model the behavior that you want. When your kids are young they want to be like you, this doesn’t hold true when they are teenagers, but when they are young when they are in the two to five-year-old age range they want to be just like you.

They see you doing adult things and they want to do those same adult things. So pick a time and you will put on a show. In this show, you will tell your kids everything they need to know about brushing their teeth. You don’t tell them you are putting on a show you just do it.

Say hey let’s go to the bathroom I’m going to brush my teeth you can watch or say you can brush with me that will be great! I like to brush my teeth every night and I do it every morning. That keeps my teeth nice and strong and healthy and that way I don’t get cavities.

When you do this modeling you can address all the issues that come up. You can say, sometimes I’m tired and I really don’t want to brush my teeth but I do it anyway because I know it’s a good thing to do.

#2 Role Playing

Role playing is another concept you can use to deepen the knowledge that you’ve already given your kids through modeling.

Kids love to work out what they’ve learned and what they are processing about the world through role playing games. You can take one of your child’s stuffed animals and say; let’s get brown bear, we want brown bear to have strong healthy teeth right? Yes, of course we do! So let’s brush brown bears teeth.
They could say, but daddy brown bear doesn’t have teeth. Just respond, I know brown bear doesn’t have teeth but let’s just practice it will be fun.

Then you can ask all the questions and show how we brush our teeth. You can say, okay brown bear we do this every night and every morning with just a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on the toothbrush. Make sure you brush the back teeth.

There are certain dilemmas that people commonly run into with tooth brushing. You can address these dilemmas with the role playing games. You can say, brown bear wants to brush his own teeth and he doesn’t want mommy and daddy to help. Brown bear you’re being very naughty, I know kids can brush their teeth but they need a little bit of help from their parents and so you’ve got to let us help. Brown bear still doesn’t want mommy and daddy to help. Okay brown bear, we’re going to have to put you in time out.

Kids will love this and you can have a lot of fun with that and everybody will have fun. This is not just play, it’s play but it’s also learning. This is helping young kids, especially toddlers and three and four-year-olds, this is how they are learning about the world.

#3 Problem Solving Session

The last concept to think about is to use a problem-solving session.

This is a conversation that you can have with your child and in this conversation you will pose a series of questions. These questions are simple and you know the answers. You want to let your child answer, that is the important thing about this. You ask the question and then stop talking, let them think through the answer and listen to their answer.

You might say, little Madeline what do you think we should do so that your teeth stay strong and healthy? She might say, we should eat healthy foods and that way we shouldn’t get cavities. You could answer, oh that’s great!

Make sure you provide a lot of positive encouragement. As a general idea, kids love positive encouragement, they love to make their parents happy. So you say, oh you think we should eat some healthy foods, what are some healthy foods? She could say, I think that we should eat some cheese and lots of vegetable that way we won’t get cavities.

Those are very good foods! What are some foods that we shouldn’t eat? We shouldn’t eat candy. That’s exactly right! What else should we do? I don’t know. Do you think we should brush our teeth every morning and every night? Yeah, that’s a good idea. Should you do that before or after pajamas?

You think through all the questions and you let them answer it. You let them solve the problem but you’re leading them to the solution and they have some amount of ownership.


If you use all three of these techniques your kids will be much more willing to brush their teeth. You’ll find nighttime battles are much smaller and the morning battles are much smaller. Things will flow smoother. It still may not be perfect but it will be an improvement.

If you would like to talk more about these techniques and how they might specifically apply to your family or your children, schedule an appointment and come by. I would live to talk to you about it. (503) 297-1711.

You might also enjoy viewing our post and video: 3 Ways To Lower Your Childs Risk Of Getting Cavities