Tips for Getting Kids to Brush Their Teeth

Little ones have the sweetest smiles, but brushing their toothy (or toothless) grins doesn’t always leave them happy. Many toddlers run the other direction when you mention it’s time to brush their teeth. Or curious infants see their toothbrush as a teething toy and eat up their paste like a snack. But we all know that, no matter what, brushing our teeth is a must do.

In fact, The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends starting to clean your baby’s gums with a soft infant toothbrush or cloth and water as early as birth. As soon as he or she pops the first tooth, you can use a “smear” of toothpaste for brushing teeth (your toddlers can try a “pea-sized” amount). Of course, make sure to visit your dentist when your baby’s first tooth breaks through—and no later than the first birthday—so they can provide the best oral care plan and options for your family.

Honest Toothpaste

Naturally, we want to help you promote healthy teeth and habits at home too. So, we’re excited to introduce Honest Toothpaste and Honest Kid’s Toothpaste. Our fluoride-free and vegan formulas have absolutely no artificial sweeteners, flavors, or dyes Adults can enjoy refreshing minty cleaning, while little ones will open wide for the yummy and safe-on-their-tummy strawberry flavor.

Kids Brushing Teeth

How To Get Your Toddlers to Brush Their Teeth

Tips for Getting Kids to Brush Their Teeth

If your kiddos still need a little coaxing to brush those pearly whites (although we’re pretty sure they’ll love our natural toothpaste), you can lend a helping hand with these great tips from the AAPD…

  • Because kids often don’t have the dexterity to brush their teeth effectively, the AAPD suggests that parents assist with brushing. Think of this as an opportunity to make it a game. In Baby Teeth Basics, dentist and former president of the AAPD Philip Hunke encourages letting children play with their toothbrush until they’re comfortable with it so they’ll hand it over to parents without a squabble. “Aim to spend a full minute of cleaning the inside and outside surface of her teeth and gums,” he says.

And our Honest Community…

  • To help kids learn how to brush properly, do a game of “copycat” with them. Model good brushing and have them copy! – MamatogaJenny
  • Make a game of it by breaking the mouth down into 4 quadrants. Count up to 5 in each and gradually increase how high you count. — SKupferschmidt
  • @sesamestreet “Healthy teeth, healthy me” works wonders for us! My toddler brushes by herself then I help her brush. – jess_coffman
  • My 2 year old loves it when I imitate the sound of my power brush. – LramosNJNY

This post was revised as of 11/23/2015.

What are your teeth-brushing tidbits? Let us know in the comments below!

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterGoogle+Pin on Pinterest
  • TMTaylor

    OMG, soooo excited to try this!!!! There’s such a lack of options out there for toothpastes…I already know I’m gonna love this from reading the ingredients. Thank you so much for this addition, and for making it as cute-looking as all the other products lol.

    • You’re very welcome! Please let us know what your family thinks of these new Honest products once you have a chance to give them a try. And thanks so much for your support and being part of our community.

      • TMTaylor

        Love it!!! Exactly what I expected; so glad I don’t have to settle and stress about my toothpaste anymore! Since we’re talking about new products, I would looooove to see a face toner and a hand cream that’s sort of like the healing balm but not as oily and smells less herbal. I think the hand cream is a must for the honest company because it would be a “brag-size” item that people would constantly pull out of their bag to use throughout the day. In most cases, users would offer to share, so friends of Honest users would get that immediate “test drive” of an honest product. All of my friends know that I’m obsessed with Honest lol, and there have been several occasions where I took out my Burt’s Bee hand cream, and got asked “oh is that from Honest?” And I hated answering “no…they don’t have a hand cream yet.” So please consider the hand cream, I would order a bunch and have one in my room, one in my purse, one in my car, one in my office……… Thanks guys!

        • Thanks for sharing these great ideas — we’ll pass them on to our product team!

  • GypsyMomma

    My issue is that kuds toothpaste is always fruit flavored! My toddler loves mint and would brush better if her toothpaste didn’t taste like fruit or candy, which she just wants to suck off of the toothbrush. Not to mention, it would prepare them for the actuality of brushing and more closely mimmick my own toothpaste.

    • Good news! Both our toothpaste formulas were designed for the entire family, so your toddler definitely can use the mint toothpaste if she prefers that. We hope you give it a try and let us know what you think!

  • ☆ Cindii

    Could we get small samples? I’d like to try before I commit to getting it in my bundle.

  • Cindy Coloma

    We make sounds so I can reach areas of the mouth like “ahhhh” to get my daughter’s mouth wide open and “eeeee” for the front teeth. We always finish with an excited “ALL DONE!!” and a cheer. With 5 kids I’ve learned to make a game out of things they may not like (riding in cars, putting on clothes, cleanup).

    • Great tips, Cindy! “Eeeeee!” is the perfect sound for getting little ones to expose their front teeth. And it’s so true how making things playful helps kids tackle those tasks they may not always like.

  • Kallie Brynn Buckmaster

    I’m so excited! Kids’ toothpaste was the product I was hoping you’d make, and you went beyond and have an option for me, too. Can’t wait to try them both. Thanks, Honest!

    • Thanks, Kallie! Let us know what your family thinks of the new toothpastes. We hope they make brushing healthy & fun!

  • JenBro

    wish you didn’t include carrageenan in the toothpastes. I was SO looking forward to buying this but unfortunately won’t now!

    • Hi JenBro! Thanks so much for your feedback regarding the carrageenan. We wanted to share a little more information about why we use it since there’s a lot of controversy and misinformation about the ingredient.

      It’s important to note that there are different types of carrageenan and various ways of processing the polysaccharides that are extracted from seaweed (the source of carrageenan). “Native” carrageenan requires minimal processing of seaweed to release and purify carrageenan. “Degraded” carrageenan is called poligeenan, which requires an aggressive chemical process using strong acids and high temperatures over an extended period of time.

      Some have concerns about carrageenan and cancer, and the real concern is with the latter – what’s known as “degraded carrageenan” not the native carrageenan. Because the two terms have been used interchangeably in recent years, it’s lead to a lot of confusion and misinterpretation of the science. The carrageenan used in the Honest Toothpaste is not degraded carrageenan, it is food-grade native carrageenan.

      Food regulatory agencies in the US, the EU, and in the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization (FAO/WHO) repeatedly review and continue to approve carrageenan as a safe food additive. It also meets Whole Foods Premium Body Care standards.

      And here’s an interesting factoid (because we’re just geeky like that): carrageenan has been used in food and medicinal applications since 600 B.C.! In our toothpaste it acts as a thickener to create the appropriate texture and consistency, and we’ve found it’s one of the safest ingredients to do so.

      Please let us know if you have any more questions about the carrageenan or the toothpaste in general. We’re here to answer!

      • JenBro

        Thanks for taking the time to address my concern. I really appreciate it.

        • shatonkwalb

          I appreciate the expanded information on carrageenan. My initial reaction was the same as JenBro (unfortunately to avoid the product due to the use of this additive). I will look at the links you provided to expand my knowledge and see if it changes my opinion on a ingredient we currently avoid. I would love to get my toothpaste from a US company (we currently order from an Australian company).

          • JenBro

            I’m curious if it changed your mind. I did some follow-up research as well and for my family and myself we are going to continue not using products with this ingredient, as much as I really wanted to get behind this toothpaste. I am having a very hard time finding a toothpaste that meets my requirements and would love to know what company you are happy with….to the google I go! 🙂

          • shatonkwalb

            It did not change my mind. It did create a debate though b/c the toothpaste we use currently (Jack n’ Jill) has Xylitol and I have a lot of hesitation with that ingredient as well…..I may try the mint version for adult use since the other brand only does fruit flavors and I just can’t get on board with fruit toothpaste for myself (and I know I won’t be swallowing it). I do understand the difference in the degraded versus natural … perhaps if Honest provided more detail on their source and their extraction process. I too have yet to find a toothpaste that really meets all my requirements …

          • JenBro

            I’ve been using an essential oil blend for myself but now that my daughter has teeth I want to make the best decision I can for her as well. So many choices and things to consider!

          • Hi JenBro and Shatonkwalb! Thanks for this great discussion. We just wanted to let you know we posted an expanded answer as to why we used carrageenan in our toothpaste.

          • Rebecca

            Can this toothpaste be used on infants and is it safe to swallow?

          • Hi Rebecca! We recommend consulting a dentist or physician to decide if our Kid’s Toothpaste is right for those under 2 years of age. But, since our formula doesn’t contain fluoride or triclosan (the ingredients which can lead to poisoning), if your child does end up swallowing some, it shouldn’t be a problem. We hope this helps, and we’re always here if you have any other questions!

        • You’re very welcome. Please let us know if you have any more questions — we’re here to help!

  • A

    I am kinda bummed that the toothpaste is strawberry and doesn’t have fluoride. My son hates fruit flavored toothpaste. He also has a sensitive gag reflex, so if he tastes something he doesn’t like he will gag or throw up. He is fine with mint toothpaste. I wish the new kid toothpaste was a mint flavor so we could try it. Also, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, which you quoted, says that children should brush with a fluoride toothpaste. This is from their website:

    “Toothpaste: when should we begin using it and how much should we use?
    The sooner the better! Starting at birth, clean
    your child’s gums with a soft infant toothbrush or cloth and water. As
    soon as the teeth begin to appear, start brushing twice daily using
    fluoridated toothpaste and a soft, age-appropriate sized toothbrush.
    Use a “smear” of toothpaste to brush the teeth of a child less than 2
    years of age. For the 2-5 year old, dispense a “pea-size” amount of
    toothpaste and perform or assist your child’s toothbrushing. Remember
    that young children do not have the ability to brush their teeth
    effectively.Children should spit out and not swallow excess toothpaste
    after brushing.”

    • Great question, A! We actually have a detailed blog post scheduled for next week discussing why we opted to create a toothpaste without fluoride. While we part with the AAPD regarding this ingredient, we still recommend following their guidelines for brushing and consulting your dentist to develop the best oral care plan for your family. Also, both our toothpaste formulas are safe for and can be enjoyed by everyone in your family—including your son—if one flavor is preferred over the other. We hope he likes the mint!

      • Shawna Griffith

        I am SO happy you opted for no fluoride! Fluoride is a chemical that I don’t want anywhere near my mouth, let alone my child’s mouth. “Yay” for a new brand I can feel good about buying and great about my family using! Thank you for going fluoride free!

        • We’re excited that you’re excited about our new toothpaste! Are there any other products you’re hoping to see and want & need? We’d love to know!

  • SaraB

    I always tell my 2-yr-old daughter “i see some macaroni back there!” or whatever we had to eat that day. She loves it 🙂

    • We can totally picture your daughter giggling and opening wide for you to brush her teeth. Thanks for this healthy habit tip!

  • ConcernedConsumer

    “Specially formulated all natural strawberry flavor for kids” Since when does strawberries need a “special formula” to produce a flavor? Could you please expand and explain what this consists of? Thank you.

  • Pingback: Why Doesn’t Honest Toothpaste Contain Fluoride? - What's Inside - Honestly... The Honest Company Blog()

  • Janet

    Is it safe to swallow? My little one can’t spit out on command.

    • Boomama

      I’d like to know this also.

      • As indicated by the packaging, we recommend supervising and instructing children under 6 years of age in good brushing habits to minimize swallowing. But, since our formula doesn’t contain fluoride or triclosan (the ingredients which can lead to poisoning), if your child does end up swallowing some, it shouldn’t be a problem. Please let us know if you have any other questions!

  • Pingback: Honest Dental Look after Children | Dentist For Kids()

  • Very fun read thanks for sharing this!

  • Mathis Dental

    What a fantastic read thanks! These is a very kid friendly and fun methods!

  • Thank you for posting about this! Maintaining a healthy smile for small children can always be such a task. This is a helpful and insightful article!

    • Kathryn Smith

      We, Brushie Team, also has the same passion for dental care. Brushies makes healthy habits and confident smiles a game they won’t want to put down. Let’s face it, tooth brushing time is not the most highly anticipated moment in a child’s day. When we ask them to stop what they are doing to brush their teeth, we parents make matters worse we ask them to do it properly and for a whole two minutes. The Brushies team has designed a loophole to this universal parental problem. Instead of asking kids to stop what they are doing to brush, we invite them to engage in a fun and exciting game WHILE they brush! With a long battery life, your child can engage in maximum smileage without pesky interruptions.

      Check out our Brushie products at and be amazed of what it can actually do to help your kids become excited to brush!

  • Kathryn Smith

    Thanks for sharing! This blog would be really helpful but I am looking for something that would teach our kids brush their teeth on their own. I’ve let my nieces watch a cartoon together (regarding how to properly brush their teeth and they got very excited to brush their teeth correctly, but only for few days. Is there any brushing game or device that our kids can use to motivate them brush their teeth? I heard from a friend that there will be new product, called Brushie, which will be released this March. Before its launch to the market, she actually worked as a tester for the product. Surprisingly, she found it very engaging and fun! I am not sure if this is really a good product but I will surely try this out but if you guys have other suggestions, I am open to it because our kids are just so crazy about sweets and they don’t even want to brush their teeth. 🙁 I would really appreciate if you can give me any advice as well.

  • Midori

    Awesome post! My trick to get my toddler brush her teeth is to buy different toothbrushes with her favourite character so she gets excited to see a “new” one everyday. I’ve been using the Honest kids toothpaste even before my child had teeth. I love it because you can get travel size ones too and they can hold easily. It doesn’t taste artificial and my child loves it