How to brush someone else’s teeth

Some tips when providing full support.


What you will need

  • Disposable gloves (a new pair each time)
  • Toothbrush – one with soft bristles and a small head
  • Fluoride toothpaste – a pea-sized amount smeared onto the brush. If the person doesn’t like toothpaste or has swallowing difficulties, brush with water only
  • A basin or bowl
  • Towel to protect the person’s clothing and wipe the mouth
  • Good light (a camping head torch can be useful)

Before you start

  • Read the person’s oral health care plan (if they have one).
  • Make sure the person is comfortable and as upright as possible.
  • Assist from behind, the side or in front depending on what feels right for both of you.
  • Make sure the person understands what you are going to do and is ok with each step before you do it.

How to brush

  • Encourage the person to relax their lips and cheeks.
  • Introduce the toothbrush at the corner of the mouth.
  • Place the toothbrush on the gum line.
  • Brush one or two teeth at a time in small, gentle circles.
  • Consider using a second toothbrush to lift the lip and cheeks to see the gums better.
  • Clean all surfaces of the teeth: outside, inside and chewing surfaces.
  • Gently brush the insides of the cheeks, the gums and under the tongue.
  • Help the person to spit out any toothpaste left in the mouth.

See how to brush

Take breaks if needed.

Brush twice a day; morning and night.

Never put fingers inside a person’s mouth.