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Should a Child Brush Their Own Teeth?

What are the different types of floss?

You may not always feel it, but food often gets stuck between your teeth, along with bacteria and plaque. This means that if you don’t floss regularly, the plaque will build-up over time. Although your toothbrush is a great tool for improving your oral health, it cannot remove the plaque stuck between your teeth. However, flossing daily can remove this plaque, helping prevent gum disease.


Should a Child Brush Their Own Teeth?

Good standards of oral hygiene are just as important for children as they are for adults. However, should you let your child brush their own teeth? In this post, we’ll look at when your child should start to brush their own teeth and how you can teach them to brush their teeth well.


Do Children’s Teeth Need Brushing?

The correct dental care starts with the emergence of a child’s first tooth.

As soon as your child’s first tooth starts to appear, you should start to brush their teeth using a specialist toothbrush designed for infants. You should also consider booking a dental appointment for them.


As teeth become close, you should also floss for them once a day. By doing this from such an early age, you will teach your child the importance of a proper oral hygiene routine.

However, at what age should you stop brushing and flossing for them and pass the responsibility over?


What Age Should a Child Brush their Own Teeth?

Age may not be the best indicator of when your child should start brushing their own teeth, as children all develop at different rates. What’s more important is that you supervise your child when they start brushing their own teeth to ensure that they’re using the correct brushing technique.


Research has shown that, when left to their own devices, children aged around 5 only brushed about 25% of the surface of their teeth. However, by the age of 11, children brushed over two thirds of the surface of their teeth.


Although this appears to show that the older the child, the more likely it is that they’ll brush more of their teeth, many argue that kids simply develop a better brushing technique with time. This backs the theory that they should start to brush their own teeth from a younger age, with the correct supervision.


However, as your child grows older, their dexterity will improve. As a general rule, your child will probably be able to brush their teeth quite well by age 6 and your child should be able to brush unsupervised by age 9. However, remember that all children develop at different rates.


How Do I Teach My Child to Brush Their Own Teeth?

Until the age of 5 or 6, it’s likely that your child will lack the dexterity to brush their own teeth. As a result, when your child is this age or below, your child should learn from you. When they’re old enough, you should explain to them how you’re brushing their teeth and why it’s so important to do it that way and for that amount of time. Here’s a general guide on how to brush your child’s teeth and how to teach them to brush their own:


Children Aged Below 3

  • Start brushing your child’s teeth as soon as the first tooth appears (this is generally when they’re around 6 months old)

  • Brush their teeth twice a day with a small amount of fluoride toothpaste (preferably one designed specifically for children)

  • Don’t allow your child to eat or swallow the toothpaste

Children Aged 3 to 6

  • Continue to brush their teeth twice a day but begin to brush for the full two minutes on each occasion. You can guide your child’s hand so they can feel the correct movement

  • Start to slowly increase the amount of fluoride toothpaste depending on the number of teeth you’re brushing

  • Teach your child to spit or rinse the toothpaste

  • As your child’s teeth become closer together, you can start to help them floss once a day

Children Aged 7 and Over

  • Supervise your child as they start to brush their own teeth

  • Allow your child to use a mirror so they can see exactly where the brush is touching their teeth

  • Continue to floss for them until they gain the dexterity to floss their own teeth

At The Gap Dental Practice, we’re an experienced and family-friendly dental practice, specialising in children’s dentistry. If you’d like to arrange an appointment for your child to check on their oral health and their brushing technique, then please book an appointment by calling 07 3300 1277.

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