As you watch your children develop, one thing you might be excited for is watching them slowly start handling their own routines and daily habits. From potty training when they are young, to picking out their clothes, to brushing and flossing. However, brushing and flossing often bring up a lot of questions for parents. When is your child really ready to brush and floss? Children often deal with cavities more frequently than their parents, and a big part of that is not brushing with the proper techniques or frequency.
In this article, we will cover a few of the signs that your child is ready to brush and floss on their own, as well as some advice to help them brush well and often.
It cannot be understated how important it is for children to go to the dentist at young ages. Their dental team can show them how to brush and floss properly and give them extra encouragement to brush their teeth correctly. Scheduling two dental check-ups a month can both protect your child’s teeth as well as teach them important skills when it comes to their oral health.
On average most children are not ready to brush their own teeth before they are six years old. Their ability to take over relies greatly on how their parents teach them. When you brush your child’s teeth, help them learn how to brush by slowly demonstrating different brushing methods. You can both show them as your brush their teeth as well as when you brush your own teeth. Leading by example will help your children understand the process of brushing at an earlier age.
It may sound weird to refer to “spitting” as a skill, but it is important for your child to understand that they need to spit out their toothpaste. Many children will instinctively swallow toothpaste when brushing so it is important to make sure your child understands the important of spitting. When brushing your child’s teeth, even with “safe-to-swallow” toothpaste, you should encourage your child to spit to get into the habit of spitting out toothpaste.
Children often have issues with dexterity at a young age. From tying a shoe to fastening buttons to brushing their teeth, it can take time to develop the skills to do these activities effectively. In fact, many dentists recommend waiting until a child can tie their own shoes as a measurement for when they will be able to brush their own teeth. Both of these activities require a similar amount of dexterity and motor control.
One of the most important skills a child needs to have before they are entrusted with taking care of their own oral health is an understanding of responsibility. Brushing every morning and night can take a while to become a habit. Once again, it is recommended for parents to keep track of other responsibilities to see how well their child is adhering to them. Pay attention to how often they make their bed, pick-up their toys, etc.