How to Brush Your Childs’ Teeth Properly

Circular motion, back and forth, up and down? Which is the right way to brush your child’s teeth properly? It is actually a very common question that I get asked by my patients’ parents. I decided to write a post on this topic to help all the parents wondering if they are doing this daily routine correctly.


You want to start by lightly placing the toothbrush in your child’s mouth at a 90 degree angle and rotate the toothbrush in a circular motion over each tooth. The circular motion allows you to cover the entire tooth as well as the gum areas. There is no correct place to start but parents typically find it is easier to brush the front top and bottom first, then the back, followed by the surfaces of the teeth. Do whatever is comfortable for you.


Once you have finished brushing the teeth and gums, go ahead and brush the top of your childs’ mouth and tongue to prevent bacteria build up which causes bad breath. Make sure to only use fluoride toothpaste if your child is able to spit it out on their own after brushing. (Take a look at our recent article on 5 Questions to Ask Your Pediatric Dentist for more information on when to use fluoride toothpaste).


Ideally, we want kids to be brushing for 2 minutes twice a day, but I know this isn’t always realistic! When kids are around the 4 year mark, you can start helping them to brush more independently. You may want to allow your 4 year old child to brush on his/her own in the morning and let the evening brushing be the more interactive, supervised brushing of the day. A two minute timer is a great way for kids to learn how long to brush for- it may take some time, but keep up with it! Remember that it’s always best to teach by example. If your kids see you brushing they will be encouraged to do the same.

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Dr. Gelman lives in midtown Manhattan with her husband Shimon Shkury and her son Ariel Moshe who was born in July 2009. Dr. Gelman is dedicated to providing pediatric dental care in a warm, nurturing environment. She looks forward to welcoming you to her practice!