How to get kids to brush their teeth for longer than seven seconds

Girl brushing teeth

Most dentists recommend children (and adults) brush their teeth for two minutes, twice a day. Try telling that to a kid. Instead, many kids prefer to brush their teeth for a total of seven seconds before spitting out the barely-touched toothpaste and rushing back to their games.

If your child hasn’t quite mastered the fine art of brushing their teeth properly, here are the secrets from our Mum’s Grapevine community to keep them brushing for longer.

Behold … the secrets to successful teeth brushing

“Play ‘toothbrush tiggie’ in which you brush one another’s teeth before brushing your own.” – Jen

Electric toothbrushes in our house…works a treat.” – Sally 

I used to sing, count and say the alphabet or read a short kids’ book – that way they are learning while brushing.” – Kay

We use plaque disclosure tablets. The tablet turns plaque bright pink when present. Kids must keep brushing (and correctly) to remove all the pink.” – Carissa

Mummy does first and then they do! And wow what a great job they do!”Jessica

“We give them the toothbrush in the bathtub and they think it’s more fun.”Lisa 

Ours use two-minute sand timers from the dentist.”Amand

Sing a brushing song. You can find many kids brushing songs on Youtube, so pick the one that your kids like.”Shiho

We have an egg timer and a star chart.”Debbie

“Distraction. Give them a cup and the tap of running water to play with while you brush.”Lucy

The Brush Teeth with the Wiggles app for younger kids! Seriously my son asks to brush his teeth all day!”Danielle

I make it a competition – who can brush their teeth the longest or who has the cleanest teeth.”Hayley

I buy brushes that flash. So when you start you push the button and you can’t stop till the flashing stops. Eventually, it becomes a habit and she’ll do it by herself.” Leslie

Brush for one Episode of Peppa Pig.”Janelle

Bubblegum flavoured toothpaste.” – Jennifer

“The Macleans Brush Time app!” Renee

“Alternate tooth brushes. We have three of the kids’ spin toothbrushes. He picks a different toothbrush out each time.”Regan

Ask her to show favourite teddy how to brush her teeth, then get her to ‘brush’ favourite teddy/doll’s teeth with a separate brush while I give her teeth a proper scrub.”Whitney

From apps to egg timers, from bribes to bubblegum toothpaste, there’s sure to be a solution that works for your little toothy pegs.

After helping the kids learn to brush their teeth for two minutes, you’ll want to read our article on preparing them for a visit to the dentist next.

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