Teeth should be cleaned from the moment they first appear in a child’s mouth. For teething infants, this job is up to the parents. But when can the parents pass the job onto the child? Let’s look at a quick overview of brushing habits throughout the early years and when children can take on the task themselves.
Birth to Three Years Old
This one may be a no-brainer, but from birth to three years old age, the job of brushing the teeth is solely on the parents. It’s important to use age-appropriate toothbrushes brush the child’s teeth twice a day, from the moment the first teeth appear. When first brushing, it’s important to only use a wet toothbrush, with a rice-sized dollop of toothpaste at age three.
Three to Seven Years Old
From age three to the beginning of school, there is a mark change in a child’s independence. They may begin dressing themselves and noting specific preferences in their appearance. And they may insist on doing some things themselves, such as brushing their teeth. While parents can allow the child to do some of the brushing themselves, to begin learning the task, a child this age cannot clean their teeth thoroughly enough to prevent cavities. Parents should be there to supervise and step in to double check. Mostly likely, the parent will need to brush again to make sure the child’s teeth are properly clean.
Seven to Ten Years Old
This is the age when many parents assume their child knows how to brush their teeth and leaves them to do it alone. While children seven years old and up do have the motor skills to work a toothbrush, the parents will still need to supervise to make sure it is being done correctly. This includes things such as putting the correct amount of toothpaste on the brush and making sure the child is brushing for the full two minutes as recommended. Children will also need to be reminded to brush their teeth twice a day.
Ten Years Old and Older
If the parent has instilled healthy brushing habits in their children, this is the age when they can step back and rely on the child to do the work themselves. There may still need to be reminders to do it twice a day, so include it as part of the morning and nightly routines. Parents can also use two minutes songs to encourage children to brush for the full length to ensure the teeth are properly clean.
While waiting until a child is ten years old to leave the brushing to them may seem too old, it’s crucial for parents to ensure their child’s teeth and healthy and cared for. A child’s baby teeth can begin to fall out as early as age six. In helping to care for a child’s teeth up until ten, a parent can ensure that their child’s adult teeth will grow in healthy and clean for years to come.