Letting Go of the Reigns – How to Teach your Child to Brush Their Own Teeth
I am often asked – what is the right age to let my child brush and floss his/her own teeth? This is a difficult question to answer, as no two children are the same. Some children are ready for this responsibility at age 5 and some not until they are 11 or 12. Truth be told, only you can make this decision for your child. Here are a few tips to guide you in this change.
1)Watch for signs – dexterity is the number one quality your child must have in order to properly brush his/her teeth. Can they grip a toothbrush? Do they use circular motions when brushing? Can they reach their molars? All these are great questions to ask yourself when you are making a decision.
2)Skills not age – keep in mind that tooth brushing is a heavy responsibility. Too much or too little can damage teeth and set your child up for a painful future with dental decay. If you feel your child is ready to take on this responsibility, age should not be an issue. As recommended, use fluoride toothpaste sparingly in children who have the reflex to swallow – it can cause tummy troubles if too much is ingested.
3)Use transitional drills – before fully handing over the responsibility, try a few transitional drills to show your child how important good brushing is. Tablets that contain dye can help you identify the problem areas of your child’s brushing technique. You can then work with them nightly to correct their mistakes.
4)Be patient – remember good oral health habits are important enough to spend time making sure your child is brushing correctly. This is a habit your kids will carry with them for the rest of their life, so it’s important to teach it right the first time. Do you have any suggestions for parents currently in this transition? Leave them in the comments below.