A healthy dental routine starts as soon as your baby sprouts his or her first tooth. Your dental hygiene routine might have started by cleaning your baby’s early teeth and gums with a washcloth. As your baby develops into a child with a full set of teeth, your dental routine with your little one changes as well. After years of helping your kids with their daily dental routine, you might be ready to grant them some independence and leave the brushing to them. Discover the right time to hand over this important task to your kids as well as some ways to make the transition a simple one.
Signs Your Child Is Ready
Dexterity and hand-eye coordination are the skills needed for your child to effectively brush his or her teeth. Watch how your child handles the toothbrush. Does he or she hold it comfortably and maneuver it adeptly around the teeth? If so, your little one might be ready for daily dental hygiene duties; if not, you need to continue to help with the tooth-brushing routine.
Skills, Not Age
Children’s physical abilities to brush their own teeth, which require the skills mentioned above, should determine when it’s time to hand over the toothbrush. Different organizations offer varied suggestions when it comes to have a child brush his or her teeth. The American Dental Association states that most children will be able to brush their own teeth by age 6 or 7. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that most children develop the right skill set to brush their teeth by ages 4 or 5. Use these time frames as a guide. Most preschoolers might have the ability to put the toothbrush in their mouths and move it over their teeth, but they are not effectively cleaning their teeth. By the time children reach early elementary school, they are likely ready to take over the brushing duties. Let your child be your guide–you don’t have to make children brush their teeth the day they turn 6 or 7. Instead, use transitional techniques to prepare your little one for this important daily task.
Gradually teaching your child to brush his or her teeth will make the transition easy. Begin teaching your child how to brush teeth by the age 3 or 4. During this period, you can show your child how to move the toothbrush back and forth over the teeth, reaching deep into the mouth beyond those easily accessible teeth in the front. Go over how to rinse, making sure your child understands that he or she should not swallow the toothpaste. Repeat this procedure every night, allowing your child to brush his or her teeth first. Then, you can follow by brushing your little one’s teeth to clean those spots he or she didn’t reach. Over time, your child will develop the skills needed to thoroughly brush teeth, and these early lessons will make the transition easier.
Brushing their teeth can be a big deal for little kids. However, you don’t want to sacrifice your child’s dental health by granting him or her this independence too soon. Teach your child the right techniques, and gradually move him or her toward an independent dental hygiene routine.
Guest post contributed by Victoria for the Glebe Dental Group. She writes educative articles for the young to get a good start in dental hygiene.