Five Easy Steps to Build Lasting Oral Health Habits for Children

When the time comes for your child to brush his or her teeth, the struggle is often all too real for new parents. Though the nightly battle might seem like it will never end, there are a few steps you can take to make the situation less dramatic.

If your child dislikes brushing their teeth, the team at Leavitt Family Dentistry, here are five tips to help your child build positive oral health habits that will last a lifetime.

Step #1: Get on their level

Children often learn by copying what they see around them. When teaching your child how to brush their teeth, get down on their level and teach by example. When they watch you brushing your teeth, they will want to copy what you are doing. Make sure you brush all your teeth in circular motions to help them understand proper techniques and how to clean all their teeth.

Step #2: Let them choose

If a nightly battle occurs when it's time to brush, a Spiderman or Dora the Explorer toothbrush might help end the struggle. By allowing your child to select their toothbrush and toothpaste, you are helping them feel ownership, which has the potential to help the routine stick.

Step #3: Let them do it

When is your child is capable of safely brushing their teeth? Typically around 18 months to 2 years. Let them. Allow your child to put on the toothpaste, brush and clean up afterward. This process will help the routine stick. Yes, they might not be good at it just yet, but allowing them to learn the proper techniques and patterns will help them remain interested.

Step #4: Make a game out of it

Making the experience fun and enjoyable for your child will help your child stay engaged and sustain the positive habit. Be creative. Seeing who can make the most bubbles or allowing them to show you how clean their teeth are, are just a couple simple ways to make it fun. The overall goal is to keep your child brushing for two minutes. Setting a game timer is another great way to reach this goal.

Step #5: Positive reinforcement

It is proven that people respond better to positive reinforcement than punishment. Complimenting your child or giving them a reward is the perfect way to keep them happy with this activity. Sticker charts and other long-term goals will keep your child enthusiastic about their brushing, and before long, they will be reminding you to brush.


Teaching your child proper brushing at an early age will help them keep these positive and healthy habits throughout their life. Ultimately, you are the parent, and you know what is best for your child, so branch out and be creative. These five tips are just some simple ideas to help get you started!

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