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How to brush your teeth

Why it’s important

Brushing your teeth twice a day helps to keep your teeth and gums healthy.  If you do not brush your teeth properly, plaque which is a film of bacteria coats your teeth. Plaque contributes to gum disease and tooth decay.

How to help your child brush their teeth properly

You should:

  • ask children to brush their teeth twice a day for 2 minutes. You can use a 2 minute timer or download the Brush DJ app.
  • use a mirror so they can see where they need to brush
  • use hand over hand guidance so your child can feel the movements
  • try an electric toothbrush which can motivate older children.
  • use a reward chart for motivation.

Get age-specific toothbrushing tips for your child.

How to clean your teeth – a step by step guide

Step 1

Squeeze a pea sized amount of toothpaste onto toothbrush.

Person squeezing a pea sized amount of toothpaste onto a toothbrush

Step 2

Wet the toothbrush.

Person wetting the toothbrush under a running tap

Step 3

Gently brush all the surfaces of the teeth, gums and tongue in a circular motion.

Person gently brushing their teeth in a circular motion

Step 4

Spit into the sink.

Person spitting into the sink

Step 5

Wash your toothbrush.

Person rinsing their toothbrush


Tips to help your child if they struggle with fine motor skills

If your child struggles with using the small muscles in their hand (fine motor skills), you could try using:

  • toothpaste in a pump rather than a tube
  • a floss pick rather than dental floss string. You can wash the floss pick as you progress in the mouth and continue to practise using dental floss.
  • a mirror so your child can see their teeth whilst brushing.

Tips to help your child if they struggle with gross motor (physical) skills

If your child struggles with using their large muscles for whole body movement (gross motor skills), you could try:

  • a stool to help them reach the sink
  • getting them to sit down to brush and spit into a bucket or bath
  • asking the child to brush their teeth whilst sitting in the bath.

What you can do if your child has sensory issues

Your child may process sensory information differently and may need adjustments for the toothbrushing process. These include:

Touch or proprioception issues

You may need to try a softer toothbrush a non-foaming toothpaste.


You may need to change the toothpaste and ask the child to rinse more frequently.


Your child may have poor body awareness or balance issues. You may need to stand behind your child and ask them to use a mirror.


Your child may find the sound of the toothbrush distracting. You could try singing, noise cancelling headphones  or a toothbrush that sings.


Try a mild or non-flavoured toothpaste.