Teaching children good dental hygiene habits is essential for their long-term oral health. However, many children make common mistakes while brushing their teeth, which can lead to ineffective cleaning and dental issues down the line. As a parent, understanding these common mistakes and how to correct them is key to ensuring your child’s smile stays healthy and bright. At Vital Dental, we care about your child’s dental health and want to help you instill effective brushing habits. Here are some common mistakes children make while brushing their teeth and tips on how to help them brush better.

1. Brushing Too Quickly

Many children (and adults) tend to brush their teeth too quickly. Dentists recommend brushing for at least two minutes, but kids often rush through the process, missing spots and leaving plaque behind.

Tip: Use a timer or a fun two-minute song to make sure your child brushes for the full recommended time. There are also many toothbrushes available that play music or have built-in timers to make brushing more engaging.

2. Using Too Much Toothpaste

Children often use more toothpaste than necessary. A pea-sized amount is sufficient for children over three years old, while a rice-sized amount is enough for those under three.

Tip: Supervise your child’s toothpaste use until they get the hang of it. Show them how much they should be using, and explain that more toothpaste doesn’t mean better cleaning.

3. Brushing Too Hard

Brushing harder does not mean cleaner teeth. In fact, brushing too hard can damage the gums and enamel. Children need to learn to use gentle, circular motions.

Tip: Show your child the correct technique by brushing your teeth together. Use gentle strokes and explain that it should feel like a massage for their teeth and gums, not a scrub.

4. Missing the Gum Line

The gum line is a critical area for removing plaque, but many children miss it when brushing. Plaque can build up here and lead to gum disease if not properly cleaned.

Tip: Teach your child to angle their toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums. Encourage them to brush along the gum line as well as the surface of the teeth.

5. Neglecting the Back Teeth

Children often focus on the front teeth, which are more visible, and neglect the back teeth where food particles are more likely to get stuck.

Tip: Remind your child to give equal attention to all their teeth, including the back molars. Make brushing a game where they have to reach every “corner” of their mouth.

6. Not Replacing the Toothbrush Regularly

A worn-out toothbrush is less effective at cleaning teeth. Toothbrushes should be replaced every three to four months, or sooner if the bristles are frayed.

Tip: Mark a date on the calendar to remind you to replace your child’s toothbrush. Let them pick out their new toothbrush to make it an exciting event.

7. Forgetting to Brush the Tongue

The tongue can harbor bacteria and contribute to bad breath, but it’s often forgotten in the brushing routine.

Tip: Teach your child to gently brush their tongue from back to front. Some toothbrushes have built-in tongue scrapers, which can make this task easier.

8. Rinsing With Water After Brushing

Rinsing with water immediately after brushing washes away the fluoride from the toothpaste, which helps protect the teeth.

Tip: Encourage your child to spit out the excess toothpaste but avoid rinsing with water right away. Instead, they can use a fluoride mouthwash if they are old enough.


Helping your child develop good brushing habits is an investment in their future oral health. By correcting these common mistakes, you can ensure that their teeth stay clean and healthy. At vital dental, we’re here to support you and your child every step of the way. If you have any questions or need further advice, don’t hesitate to contact us or schedule a visit. Happy brushing!

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July 2024