My child doesn't want to brush his teeth, what should I do?

As a paediatric dentist, I hear the same problems more or less repeatedly from parents in the dentist's office. And, especially at younger ages and from first-time parents, I often listen: How do I get my child to brush his or her teeth?

Lack of routine, laziness and, above all, their young age, mean that our children do not understand the importance of toothbrushing. Many children don't feel like it, don't like it and even actively refuse to let themselves be brushed.

That is why today I would like to offer you a series of tips to simplify this type of problem and thus maintain perfect oral hygiene to avoid the appearance of caries.

In the end the most important piece of advice is set an example. At such a young age, children tend to imitate their environment, so if they see that after every meal their parents and siblings brush their teeth as a matter of course, they will also want to do it and will acquire the habit.

Tips for brushing your child's teeth

Around the 6 months oldThe first lower teeth will begin to erupt, although each child is different and this could be brought forward or delayed. When these teeth appear we should start brushing them twice a day with a 1000ppm toothpaste and the amount indicated according to age, which you can see in the following image:

From 6 months to 1-2 years of age

We can brush their teeth lying on the changing table or in bed with the help of another person. One will hold the hands and the other will brush with one hand and lift the lip with the other to make sure there are no food remains.

She may cry the first few times until she gets used to the procedure. For this reason, we must be patient. In addition, to help calm the crying, we can use the toys that we usually use for this purpose, or we can sing a song or play it in the background.

Another option that often works very well is to hold him in your arms, lean him backwards and brush him in quadrants or zones while you count from one to three (or as many as you can count) and celebrate together the end of the brushing.

 From 2 years to 4-5 years 

Put the child on a chair and stand in front of the mirror. The first thing we can try is to brush our teeth at the same time, but we must be aware that they will most probably just play and bite the toothbrush. Therefore, at the end of our brushing, we should stand right behind them and make them look up, while resting their head on our chest. In this way, we will have more control over their movements than if we were to stand right in front of them, which would make it possible for them to move their head sideways, making brushing more difficult.

As an additional tip, I recommend playing a song about brushing, giving them pauses to swallow or spit and keeping track of the time with a sand timer or a mobile app.

Remember to always brush not only where they chew, but also inside and out. In addition, we should start to use the dental arch on those teeth that require it (because they are close together) and brush the tongue.

From 6 to 8 years old

At this age, it is advisable for them to start brushing their teeth by themselves (as they will have been taught at the dentist's surgery) and for us to check that they have done so correctly. We have to make sure that they have brushed their gums and teeth (so that they do not become inflamed or bleed) and that they reach the last molars (first permanent molars) correctly, as they appear around this age. Often, as they come in behind their primary molars without any other teeth having fallen out previously, they have not realised that they have started to erupt or perhaps they have some discomfort, so they do not brush them properly. It is advisable to keep an eye on this until they are 8 years old.

Over 8 years of age -ADOLESCENCE

From the age of 8, they are already skilled enough to brush their teeth themselves, but they don't always do it correctly or perhaps, out of haste or laziness, they do it too quickly. As they are already self-sufficient in their personal hygiene tasks and we can't go over them every time they brush, the best option is to have a plaque developer at home. This is a product that stains the dirt a deep fuchsia colour so that we can see it and ask them to brush again if we see an area of the tooth that colour.

Remember that dental check-ups, as well as diagnosing caries and bite problems, are important to continue with the motivation to brush and to detect if the technique is correct or if we are acting incorrectly. If you have any doubts, you can contact us through our usual channels, as well as consulting other popular articles on our blog such as My child's permanent teeth are not coming in. o Do baby teeth have roots?