Children often have oral health problems because of the thinner enamel on their baby teeth, the sweets that often slip into their diet and because they are less careful with their oral hygiene.
During the first years of their life, it’s the responsibility of their parents or caregivers to brush their teeth for them and to build up a strong, healthy habit of brushing, flossing, rinsing, and being careful about how they use their teeth. Parents should also teach them about the importance of getting preventive dental care.
But, when are kids big enough to be entrusted with taking care of their own teeth?
Importance of Brushing Teeth
No matter what your child’s diet is, even if they never tasted pure sugar in the first years of their life, brushing their teeth is paramount for their health. Bacteria build up and feed on any food particles we have in our mouth, and often many people don’t realize that starchy foods can be just as bad as sugar and candy.
Brushing at least twice a day is important for your child’s health, and it should start from the moment their first tooth erupts. Flossing can start as soon as your child has two teeth side by side, as the space between them is usually where bacteria likes to linger.
What to Watch Out For
When teaching your child how to brush, and during the years in which you are doing it for them, it’s important to consider these factors:
- Use a brush that is the right size for them, and consider investing in an electric brush.
- Take your time to brush each tooth, on all sides, and spend at least 2 minutes cleaning the teeth.
- Don’t forget to clean the tongue, as it often develops a film of bacteria on it and can encourage decay.
- Don’t be too rough on the gums, and always use a soft-bristled brush for your child.
- Use fluoride toothpaste (appropriate amount for their age) and encourage them to rinse their mouth with water after eating.
At What Age Can They Brush On Their Own?
Children don’t have the necessary motor skills to effectively brush their teeth on their own until the age of 6 or 7. By then, they should be used to having their teeth cleaned every day, and to visiting the dentist's office regularly.
Your child is ready to brush their teeth on their own when they are developmentally able to do it, but also when they show enough responsibility to keep a healthy cleaning routine. Always check that they brush before bedtime, in order to keep their pearly whites healthy and happy.
Book an Appointment Today
We welcome you and your child to the Marshfield Pediatric Dentistry, where Dr. Julie Hantson and her team can do regular checkups and fix any oral issues your child might have, with maximum care and empathy. Contact us to book an appointment or to ask us anything!