When and How to Teach The Child to Brush His Teeth?
Dental & Oral Health Data Verified

By What Age Should Toddlers Start Brushing Teeth On Their Own?

Written by
Dr. Nivedita Dalmia
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.

Published on Dec 29, 2014 and last reviewed on Dec 22, 2022   -  4 min read


Encouraging kids to brush their teeth twice daily helps them to develop good oral hygiene habits early in life. Read the article to know brushing in kids.

By What Age Should Toddlers Start Brushing Teeth On Their Own?


Brushing teeth in young children need a lot of awareness and is a real oral health concern. Most people have no clue about brushing in kids, especially toddlers or those much younger than them. Teeth require attention and care as soon as they first appear in the mouth, approximately at six months of age. Parents can gently brush their child’s teeth with a soft toothbrush meant particularly for kids using only water at this tender age. They can also use cotton or a soft wet cloth to wipe the teeth and gums. It is advised to clean the teeth and gums from all surfaces twice a day, that is, early in the morning after waking up and before going to bed at night.

It is essential to include toothbrushing in the child’s everyday schedule from the very beginning, as it helps prevent issues like tooth cavities or gum soreness and also aids in adopting healthy habits for a lifetime.

How to Select the Right Toothbrush and Toothpaste for Children?

Different types and sizes of toothbrushes are available for children of different ages. Such as for toddlers, a soft finger toothbrush is recommended. Toothbrushes with a small head and soft bristles are designed for slightly older children. Electric toothbrushes in vertical and U-shaped are also manufactured for kids over three years of age to ensure easier and better cleaning of teeth.

When choosing the right toothpaste for children, the following factors should be considered:

In areas where fluoridated water is unavailable, children with an increased risk of tooth decay, or in other exceptional circumstances, guidelines for toothpaste use usually differ. In children prone to tooth decay, tooth mousse application by an oral health professional is recommended, which provides strength to the teeth.

When and How to Teach The Child to Brush His Teeth?

Along with learning other activities, children should be motivated to participate in toothbrushing as they become older. Approximately from two to three years of age, they can be allowed to brush their teeth themselves first, and then parents can do a follow-up to check all surfaces are properly cleaned. At approximately eight years of age, children develop all the fine motor skills needed for daily activities, including tooth brushing. However, they may require supervision even past this age or until parents are confident of their independent brushing.

The following tips can be applied to make the child learn tooth brushing:

  • The parent can hand over a baby-sized toothbrush to their child at around one year of age, thus making him familiar with it and motivating him to use the brush himself.

  • Initially, the child may just use it as a new toy instead of brushing his teeth. But, gradually, he will learn to handle it, ensuring a good habit in him.

  • Afterward, the parent can start properly brushing his child's teeth.

  • In the beginning, just give a toothbrush to the child. After some days, when the child learns to grasp it, give him a toothbrush with pea-sized (non-fluoridated) toothpaste, as the child may gulp it down.

  • If the children are reluctant to brush their teeth, take a very similar toothbrush to theirs and brush your teeth in front of them.

  • The child will observe and start brushing in the same way as their parents, as children are generally "copycats."

  • Get them attractive colored toothbrushes with some cartoon characters. Children get fascinated by them.

  • After some time, you will notice that they start doing this themselves.

How to Brush Teeth in Children?

Children are incapable of doing their usual chores at a young age. So, they have to depend on their parents even to brush their teeth. Parents can take the following steps to brush their children’s teeth:

  • The parent can be seated or stand in a comfortable position with the child. Hold the child’s chin with one hand and grab the toothbrush in another.

  • Start brushing along the gum line and on all tooth surfaces to clean the mouth thoroughly. Two minutes of teeth brushing is recommended.

  • Make small circles with the toothbrush on the front tooth surfaces. Brush the teeth along the inner surfaces as well.

  • On the chewing or cutting surfaces of the teeth, brush back and forth.

  • Instruct the child to spit out toothpaste after brushing is completed. However, do not ask the child to rinse with water. The small quantity of toothpaste left in the mouth provides protection to the teeth.

  • Read the instruction manual prior to using an electric toothbrush. Before switching it on, guide the brush to the child’s teeth first. With gentle pressure, move the brush head slowly from one tooth to another. Include brushing along the gum line as well (at the junction of gum and tooth). Do not exert a lot of pressure or scrub. Let the brush move freely and do its work.

  • Other mechanical aids for teeth cleaning, such as dental floss, may also be used to allow proper cleaning between the teeth. An oral health professional can also be consulted for better advice.


Tooth brushing is an essential personal hygiene practice. Incorporating the habit of brushing twice daily (morning before breakfast and at night after the last meal) not only prevents the milk teeth from decaying but also ensures good oral health and saves the permanent teeth that are yet to erupt.

Last reviewed at:
22 Dec 2022  -  4 min read




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