Brushing your child's teeth doesn't have to include crying and tantrums. Check out this post to learn how to brush without the annoying tantrum.

How to brush your child’s teeth without the annoying tantrum

I hear you.  Your kid just won’t let you brush their teeth.  It seems like you have to prepare daily for the tantrums and  the resistance.  You are even a little bit annoyed every time you have to brush your child’s teeth.  

Listen.  It doesn’t have to be a struggle.  Let me help you.  I have a few easy, simple tips to make brushing your child’s teeth more fun and less of a chore.

Brushing your little one's teeth does not have to include crying and tantrums. Check out this post on how to brush without the annoying tantrums.

Get excited!

First things first.  YOU have to get excited about brushing your child’s teeth.  Sounds ridiculous.  I know.  Hear me out.  

Kids feed off of parents energy.  You know when you child falls and then looks at you? They are looking at you to see how to respond.  If you stay calm, usually the tears don’t last long.  However, if you freak out … so does your child.

Same thing applies to brushing their teeth.  If you exude excitement, the tantrums will slowly start to go away. 

Soon you will notice that they are eager to go to the bathroom to brush their teeth.

Get a toothbrush with their favorite character

If your child has a favorite character this will be easy.  My son loves Thomas the Train.  If I buy anything with Thomas on it, he has to have it.  Even if it is a baby toy for his brother. LOL.

Start by getting a toothbrush with your child’s favorite character.  There are so many characters to choose from out there in the stores and online.  Here are a few of the popular ones that I see requested my office:

Get toothpaste

You can even do this with the toothpaste or training toothpaste.  You will be surprised what your child will do to get the toothpaste or toothbrush with their favorite character on it.

If you are worried about your little one eating the toothpaste and not really letting you do a good job brushing, you can start with the training toothpaste.  There is no fluoride and it taste great.  You should try it!  Really.

Even if they just sit there and suck the toothpaste off (because it does taste good), it is okay.  If you let your child start with the idea that this taste good, it is easier to do more later.  

Always try to go behind your child with either a toothbrush or even a wet wash cloth.  You can use the washcloth and gently rub your child’s teeth and gums.

Gently use a wash cloth to clean your little ones teeth.

I still use this technique with my now one year old.  I will start with the wet washcloth and gently rub around pretty good.  Then I will go in with a toothbrush with a tiny bit of toothpaste.  After I am done, I give him the toothbrush to let him brush his teeth and suck up the rest of the toothpaste if he wants.

I have been doing this since he was six to nine months.  He is about 18 months now.  I don’t fight as much. 🙂  Some nights he wants to brush his teeth first, but for the most part the resistance has subsided.

Now with my oldest child, life was not very easy when it came to brushing his teeth.  This is when I had to get creative.

My turn. Your turn.

One thing that I found helpful was letting my son brush my teeth.  Yes.  I know.

He thought it was so much fun, then he would let me brush his teeth without the resistance.

The trick with this is to make it seem like you enjoy your child brushing your teeth and that they are doing a fantastic job.  This will get your child motivated to let you brush their teeth.

Get excited.  Kids feed off of your energy.  Whether it is good or bad.  Before you pick up the toothbrush, do an attitude check.  Take a deep breath and get excited for the best cleaning ever.  🙂  

Let’s Sing Songs

You can do fun things like sing a song or dance a little bit.  This will help to keep the tantrums at bay by making things more exciting.  There are some really fun videos on YouTube that you can also try playing about brushing your teeth.  My favorites are Elmo and Blippee.  You can check out those videos here:


While we are talking about phones, there are a few fun apps out there too that may provide some motivation for brushing as well.  I promise, these kids come out of the womb knowing how to operate an iPad these days.  LOL.

Mickey Mouse brushing app is one app that can be downloaded on Google Play that seems to provide some motivation for the little ones.  You can give this a try if you think that your little one can handle seeing the phone without wanting to grab it and play with it.

Tooth Brushing Chart

Lastly, for a little motivation you can use a brushing chart.  Have your child complete the steps on the chart and at the end of the week get a special prize.  Nothing big.  Maybe a 50 cent ice cream or a 99 cent hot wheels car.  

You can get fancy by getting a picture frame from Dollar Tree and spray painting the picture frame.  Place the tooth brushing chart in the picture frame and use a dry erase marker (that you can get from the Dollar Tree as well) to mark off each step when it is completed.  

This visually can help your child see what needs to be done, their progress and how soon they will get their prize. 🙂

You can download a brushing chart that I made and even add your child’s name to it to customize it if you like.

These are my tips to helping make brushing easier and keep cavities at bay.  Give them a try and let me know what works for you.

With lots of love,

Dr Toni

How to brush your child's teeth without the annoying tantrum [infographic]


  1. Dorian

    My daughter loves brushing her teeth but generally this is just he sucking the toothpaste off the brush! She has a tantrum if I try to clean them properly. We have watched you tube videos and sung songs but no luck, she is a very independent 2 year old and wants to do everything herself! I would be grateful for any suggestions x

    1. Yay! I am happy to hear that your little one likes to brush! At least we are over that hurdle. I know that when I went through the same thing with my youngest, I always started brushing/cleaning first, then let him take over and suck the toothpaste off. Most of the time, I go in with a wet washcloth because it is easier for me to get in and gently rub around than use a toothbrush initially. I don’t know if you have tried letting her brush your teeth, but that was magic for my oldest. He felt like such a big helper. Then I would let him know, it’s my turn after he was done. I promise it does get better. Don’t give up. You are doing an awesome job! Eventually, she will get into the routine and the tantrums will start to subside. My almost 2 year likes to give me a hard time every couple of days (and we have been doing fine for months). So you are not alone. 🙂

  2. Katie/Celebrating With The Bug

    I signed up for your chart!!! I am a clean teeth fanatic and I still struggle with my two year old every night! I needed the reminder to act like I enjoy brushing her teeth even if I don’t due to her behavior! This is a really great post that I am sure hits home with a lot of parents!

    1. Great! I hope it provides a little motivation for your little one. I can be tough sometimes, but don’t give up. You are doing great!. Thanks for you kind words and thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  3. Rachael M

    Awesome tips! I got lucky with my son, he has always let me brush his teeth (maybe because we started right away and he was so little he didn’t care?)… But he definitely likes to take turns and he’s 2 so it isn’t always a walk in the park. I think he’d really like the songs!

    1. Thanks! Yes, starting early helps make it a little easier when they become toddlers. At least, that is the trend I see with the moms that don’t have any issues with brushing their little one’s teeth. You are doing a great job!

  4. Bridget | This Mom Life

    We LOVE the Elmo video! It has helped a lot. We also play a game where we pretend to brush animals out of our teeth- it works!

    1. Elmo is a favorite of mine. 🙂 I like that idea. I definitely have to mention that to other moms. Thanks!

    1. Yay! Congrats! I have something that can help you during your pregnancy here. Best wishes to you! Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  5. Kimberly

    Im lucky that my toddlers love to brush their teeth! I’ve used many of threes wonderful tips to make it fun for them. Great article!

    1. Thank you!! That is awesome! It makes life so much easier when they actually like brushing. I am happy for you. 🙂

  6. Jesse Murphy

    Most of these are great! If only they still worked on older kids who refuse to brush their teeth like mine does. Got any tips for that?

    1. Thanks! Big kids are a different breed. I haven’t mastered that, but I will definitely work on that for a future post. The only thing I have found that is successful is when someone else tells them to brush. If there is a friend or another adult that tells them, they seem to listen and act on it. When I have a mom that comes in and tells me that their kid doesn’t listen to them because they are not brushing their teeth (after reminding them many times), I go in and talk to the kid without the parent and explain to them why they need to brush and ask them to help me help them. Most of the time this helps … at least for a few days (is what some moms tell me). Also, I like to tease the older boys, especially, and tell them that they have to brush their teeth because they won’t get a girlfriend because girls don’t like guys with dirty teeth. This backfired on me one day and the boy told me, “I already have a girlfriend.” Needless to say, that strategy did not work on him. LOL.
      I will definitely work on this and get back to you. Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Savanna

    Oh thank you for some more ideas to try out! My toddler loves having her toothbrush with paste on it as she just has to be like a big person.

  8. S

    Will try the app and see if that solves the two year old tantrums! Thanks for th tips!

  9. Great tips! My DD had dental issues (bad cavities and dental work) and now hates brushing because it brings back bad memories. And she throws up if toothpaste is too minty LOL. I’m gonna try an app and see if that helps…

    1. Thanks! I know it is challenging especially when there are bad memories imprinted in their minds. My little is the same with toothpaste! LOL. I found I don’t go wrong with bubble gum flavor toothpaste, mouth rinse, medicine … everything. 🙂

  10. Janice Martin

    Great post! These are awesome tips to make this time go so much easier. I did the chart idea and it actually worked!

  11. Emily | The Multitasking Mom

    These are great tips. I will definitely try them with my daughyet.

  12. Nicole | The Professional Mom Project

    My son loves the Disney timer app. It helped for a bit but we also do the “my turn your turn” technique as well. These are great tips thank you.

    1. I am glad the app was helpful. I like the app, but son thinks that it is his turn to have my phone after he is done and it is hard to get my phone back. LOL. Thanks for stopping by.

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