At What Age Can My Child Brush His Teeth Alone?

file000644477390 At What Age Can My Child Brush His Teeth Alone?

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.file0001828221205 At What Age Can My Child Brush His Teeth Alone?

Transitional Techniques

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.

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  1. I couldn’t agree more. If your child is capable of brushing his/her teeth on their own, then that is the right time to allow them to do so.

  2. Great post. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this question, and you answered it exactly how I always do. Your child is not capable of brushing until they are about 5, and after that it just depends on their individual ability. Once they are able to brush effectively, that’s it! Too many parents overthink this kind of stuff lol

  3. Sorry, strongly disagree. When he/she will brush their self that mean they are grown up enough to brush their self. The age is not fact. It depends on many reason. But dont worry, most of the children do it at the age of 5.

    • No doubt there are many factors and age is one of them. It is not about forcing kids to do it alone. It is about parents to observe the signs whether their kids are ready to do it alone or not.

  4. This is a great post. It’s so good for parents to understand that it really doesn’t have to do with age, but rather the dexterity. Great, great info.

  5. I guess age is not really necessary to let a child brush their teeth alone, as long as they are able to handle and they are eager to do it with themselves, we just let them be but we should somehow still guide them on how to properly brush their teeth. We can see, almost all children loves to brush their teeth, it seems they enjoy it and thinking it is like playing. We should also consider choosing the right toothbrush and toothpaste.

  6. In brushing their teeth, it will be better if you do it gently and in some fun way so that your child won’t be afraid of the routine and will easily adapt or learn it for her own, I see some parents who brush their children’s teeth too much that it hurts and I know that it is the one of the reason why they feel lazy to brush their own teeth when they grew up. This is a great article that every parents must read in order to know what is the best way to brush your child’s teeth and when is the right time for them to do it on their own.

  7. We used to think that by brushing alone, we can prevent oral problems. I guess, it’s about time that we consider the age in all the things that we do everyday.

  8. I have a 4 year – old nephew and until now he is still being watched over by his dad while he’s brushing his teeth. I would say that we can let kids brush their teeth alone one we saw that they can manage themselves yet.

  9. I love to see my kids in bright smile. My youngest is 4 years old and we let him do brushing alone. But sometimes, I watch over him because he doesn’t clean his teeth perfectly.

  10. It is always nice to see a child with a bright and sweet smile. Parents should teach their children as early as they can. Children will not learn on it unless you teach them the right way. However, not all children easily get the proper of way of brushing the teeth, so it really needs the supervision of the parents.

  11. It’s really nice to see little children who know how to care for their oral health. This should be one of the major things that parents should teach to them. As early as possible, they should be aware of the proper hygiene. Thanks for sharing this post.

  12. Stacy says:

    We have a 5 yr old boy, and about a year ago, we watched and helped as he brushed his teeth 2 morning and night. Now he’s a pro! Teaching early on the importance of maintaining teeth health will give them a better smile down the road, and they will thank you for it.

  13. Nice post Victoria! We wish all parents understood that the need for dental care starts at the toddler age. Thanks for tips.

  14. Well, i guess we should think that only brushing the teeth can’t prevent oral problems. We should keep on visiting the our dentist for better oral health.

  15. Twice-daily brushing with fluoride paste should begin as soon as the baby teeth begin to erupt and will need to be performed or supervised by an adult until children are around six years of age.

  16. I currently have very young nieces who are eager to do things independently. Rather than letting tooth brushing become a battle every night before bed, I have the following deal with her : They get to brush first and then I tell them I’m going to “check to see if they got everything clean” as I help them finish up. My sister and I plan to continue doing this for a few more years. Once they are a little bit older we will likely start using plaque disclosing tablets more regularly. When we begin to notice that they are removing much of their plaque independently then we will transition to letting them brush by themselves.

  17. I like how it says “Skills, not Age.” A truer statement could not be said on the subject. For example, I know parents who have said that their child started walking at 1 year or less, others say 2 years. There are even some that have said 3 years…which seems a little weird to me, but whatever. I could only imagine it’s the same with brushing their, or any other basic skill for that matter.

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