Bedtime and Brushing

mother and daughter brushing teeth

Bedtime, Books and Brushing

Do you often struggle to brush your child’s teeth before bed?   Because of this common struggle, and the direct effect it has on a child’s oral health, Jeffrey L. Angart, DDS is here to help you with some important information.

Having a predictable nighttime routine will help them understand and learn to expect what comes next. Additionally, routines may ease the stress that some families experience at nighttime.

All young children need help with brushing from an adult to make sure a good job is done. When possible, teach children to spit out extra toothpaste, but don’t rinse with water first. The little bit of toothpaste left behind is good for their teeth!

Once teeth touch, they can also be flossed. Visit Jeffrey L. Angart, DDS regularly starting with your child’s first birthday or sooner if there are concerns.

 Watch our video about a child’s first dental visit HERE.

Your pediatrician can answer questions about oral health, too.

Remember, the last thing to touch the teeth before bed is the toothbrush!

  • As soon as baby is born, you can start good oral health practices. If possible, use a soft washcloth to wipe your baby’s gums after feedings. Remember not to put babies to bed with a bottle filled with milk. And, when it is time to introduce solids, choose healthy foods to reduce the risk of tooth decay.
  • For children under age 3: As soon as you see a tooth in your baby’s mouth you can start to BRUSH! Use a smear (grain of rice) of toothpaste with fluoride 2 times per day.
  • For children ages 3–6: Use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. It is OK to let them practice with the brush, but you get your turn too.

Brush, Book, Bed, a program of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), has a simple and clear message for parents:

  1. Each night, help your children to brush their teeth.
  2. Read a favorite book (or two)!
  3. Get to bed at a regular time each night.


To ensure your child is able to fall asleep earlier in the evening, avoid caffeinated beverages, soda and snacks high in sugar. Not only are they bad for your children’s health and young teeth, they also make the bedtime transition even more difficult.


We also recommend limiting screen time for your children as “bedtime” approaches. Intense television shows and video games can stimulate your children and research has shown that the “blue light” from cell phones, iPads and other devices can interfere with the brain’s ability to “shut down” for the night.

Instead, use relaxing activities such a soothing bath or a nightly story as part of their nighttime ritual. Bedtime is the ideal time for reading and bonding with your child after a long day. And, most schools require elementary aged students to “log” their daily reading by pages or by a specific amount of time. So why not wind down with a good book? We love these picture books that encourage good oral health habits in children. Be sure to check them out, especially if brushing and flossing are a struggle at home. All are available on Amazon.

1. Brush, Brush Brush, by Alicia Padron
2. Open Wide: Tooth School Inside, by Laurie Keller
3. Melvin the Magnificent Molar, by Lara Jana
4. Pony Brushes his Teeth, by Michael Dahl
5. Clarabella’s Teeth, by An Vrombaut
6. The Tooth Book, by Dr. Seuss
7. Have You Ever Seen a Moose Brushing his Teeth? by Jamie McClaine & April Goodman Willy
8. The Tooth Book: A Guide to Healthy Teeth and Gums, by Edward Miller
9. Brush Your Teeth Please (pop-up), by Leslie McGuire
10. I know Why I Brush My Teeth, by Kate Rowan

So remember to set a nightly ritual, such as bath, brush, then into bed to cuddle and read a book. I find with my own children that even if they are dragging to brush their teeth at night time, the thought of the final step of reading and cuddling together gets them to brush more easily.


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