Do your kids hate to brush their teeth? If so, you’re far from alone. This twice-daily brushing chore turns into a battle of wills between parents and their kids everywhere.

Making your child’s oral hygiene routine as interesting and lively as possible can encourage cooperation. One or more of these ten tips is bound to work for your family!

1. Sing a Song

Is toothbrushing time a cause of stress and frustration in your household? Lighten the situation with a little song.

Challenge your child to brush their teeth the entire time their favorite song plays. You can also challenge them to hum a song while they brush or to keep brushing while you sing.

2. Stir Up a Little Friendly Competition

Turn a stressful chore into a fun game by pitting your kids against one another while they brush! You can even challenge them to compete against mom or dad. See who can brush the longest or make the most toothpaste bubbles.

3. Use Educational Materials That Promote Toothbrushing

A quick search on Amazon or YouTube will yield some very helpful books and cartoon clips that encourage kids to brush their teeth. Use these on a regular basis to help your child form a positive view of toothbrushing.

4. “Help” Each Other Brush

Take turns brushing each other’s teeth! Your child may be more willing to let you clean their teeth if they first get to try brushing yours. They’ll see that it’s a positive, nurturing, and helpful activity and not something to be afraid of.

5. Set Up a Reward System

Older kids in particular benefit from the self-discipline they learn from a reward system. Put up a chart in the bathroom or your child’s bedroom to mark their progress. You put a sticker down for every time they remember to brush their teeth. Once they get so many stickers in a row (14 stickers, for example, meaning an entire week of brushing twice a day), your child gets a special treat. Offer rewards that appeal to your child like an outing to the park, pizza night, or movie night.

6. Explain the Importance of Brushing in Age-Appropriate Terms

Kids around the age of 7-10 can usually grasp the concept that brushing will help them avoid cavities and bad breath. But younger children may need more age-appropriate explanations when they ask why they need to brush their teeth.

Tell your small child that they need to brush or else “sugar bugs” will come eat holes in their teeth and cause “ouchies.” Toothpaste is the special “vitamin” that will make their teeth strong like a lion’s (or another favorite animal).

7. Highlight Tooth Brushing Role Models

Hold up as examples people your child looks up to. Let them see their older siblings or grandparents taking care of their teeth. Point out the fact that Captain Marvel and Iron Man have sparkling-white teeth because they brush every day. When your child realizes that toothbrushing is an adult responsibility, they may be more interested in the activity.

8. Let Your Child Choose His or Her Own Hygiene Tools

If you let your child make the decisions when you go grocery shopping, you may end up spending all day at the store and spending all your money on 18 kinds of breakfast cereal!

But oral hygiene is a good area to let your child call the shots in. If your kid gets to pick out a toothbrush they love and a toothpaste flavor they enjoy, they’ll be far more likely to use those items as you want them to.

Allow your kid to pick out a brush that spins or lights up or plays music or sports their favorite cartoon character. Let them pick from bubblegum- or fruit-flavored toothpaste. They’ll be so excited to go home and brush their teeth!

9. Put Your Child in Charge of Brushing for Someone Else

Even small toddlers may be more inclined to brush their teeth when they have a sense of autonomy and authority. Give your child strict instructions to take care of their favorite doll or stuffed animal by “brushing” their toy’s teeth every day. When your child feels obliged to look after their toy’s needs this way, they may be more willing to “set an example” by brushing their own teeth, too.

10. Visit a Tacoma Family Dentist to Get More Tooth Brushing Tips for Kids

Still haven’t found a way to get your child to cooperate with toothbrushing?

Schedule an appointment to chat with Tacoma family dentist Dr. Duke Bui. Dr. Bui has extensive experience in working with kids of all ages. It doesn’t matter how little your little one may be—our team has all kinds of tricks for engaging children and getting them excited about brushing their teeth!