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Getting ready - Health and Hygiene
Cleaning your teeth  Like this activity  
5 mins activity Suitable for Birth - 5 years

Location Bathroom

Cleaning our teeth is something that we do at least once every day. Some families have a routine of cleaning their teeth after every meal while other families may clean their teeth in the morning and then at night before they go to bed. Talking to your child as you clean their teeth - or as they try themselves - is a wonderful opportunity to use positional and directional language. Talk about where you will start cleaning.

Will you start at the very back of the mouth on the bottom row and then move to the back teeth up the top? Will you start to clean at the front of the mouth focusing on the two front teeth, the largest teeth?

What direction will you brush the teeth? Is the toothbrush moving up and down, moving from the bottom of the mouth to the top or is it moving across the mouth moving forward and back? When you clean your teeth do you count how many times you clean each tooth or do you keep brushing until it feels clean?

Materials you will need

  • Child's toothbrush
  • Toothpaste

Why does this matter?

Talking to each other as you clean your teeth helps children to hear and use positional and directional language and to develop listening skills.

What does this lead to?

Carefully listening to directions and then interpreting what to do with the information helps children to develop the skills needed to move safely around and through their environment.

Language and Questions to use

  • Front, back, middle, top, bottom, between, next to
  • Under, over, in, out, forward, back
  • Big, little, small, large
  • Start, next, finished
  • Morning, night, bedtime
  • Where shall we start to clean?
  • Can you brush up and down five times?
  • Can you find the biggest tooth to start cleaning?
  • Which direction will you brush?
  • How many times will you brush?

Useful Tips

  1. Create a chart for cleaning teeth. This will help to establish a routine.
  2. Remember to talk to your child in your home language.

More ideas

  1. Create a teeth cleaning chart.
  2. Borrow books from the library about visiting the dentist.
  3. Borrow books from the library about teeth.
  4. Talk about other creatures’ teeth. Do all animals have teeth? What about fish?

Variation by age

Birth to two year olds

  • Count together as you brush your child’s teeth.
  • Make a song about cleaning teeth.
  • Create a teeth cleaning chart.

Questions to ask

  • What are we doing?
  • What time is it?
  • What do we need to clean our teeth?
  • Which direction is the brush moving?

Three to five year olds

  • Create a teeth cleaning chart.
  • Borrow books from the library about visiting the dentist.
  • Borrow books from the library on teeth.
  • Talk about other creatures’ teeth. Do all animals have teeth? What about fish?
  • Take photos of the process and make a story book together.
  • Compare the teeth of each family member.

Questions to ask

  • Do all people have the same number of teeth?
  • Do babies have teeth when they are born?
  • How do you chew food if you have no teeth?
  • Where will we start cleaning?
  • Does a baby have the same number of teeth as an adult?

Cleaning your teeth

Skills this activity improves


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