At What Age Should a Child be Able to Brush on Their Own?

At What Age Should a Child be Able to Brush on Their Own?

Brushing teeth is an important job, and some children are ready to take on the responsibility sooner than others. According to the American Dental Association, few kids are able to do an adequate job of cleaning their teeth before age seven. However, most are ready to take over the job from their parents around age eight.

As a parent, you know your child better than anyone. We recommend that you not put pressure on yourself or your child to meet this milestone by a certain age. Look for signs that your child is ready instead, such as willingness to take on more responsibility around the house and understanding the importance of doing a thorough job with brushing and flossing.

Oral Hygiene for Elementary Aged Children

You are probably still brushing your child’s teeth at this stage, but you can certainly request that your son or daughter try it themselves. This gives you the opportunity to see if they just rush through the job or actually take the time to properly brush each tooth. Be sure to continue supervising your child’s tooth brushing routine once they start consistently doing it on their own. Have your child use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and set a timer for two minutes to ensure they clean all surfaces.

How to Get Your Child to Cooperate with Toothbrushing

Toothbrushing was a twice-daily event when you were responsible for your child’s healthcare and should remain that way after they begin brushing independently. Even after it is no longer necessary to supervise your child directly, insist on toothbrushing in the morning and right before bed. Do not allow anything to break this routine or it will be that much harder to start up again.

A little extra motivation may be in order when your child first takes on the responsibility of brushing their own teeth. You could consider setting up a sticker chart or allowing your child to earn privileges like picking out the bedtime story. Be sure to offer plenty of praise and redirect undesirable behavior like whining about brushing teeth rather than punishing your child for it. Learning to brush teeth independently is a process like many other things in childhood, and the process will go smoother if you can offer support and maintain your patience.

Preventive Care Exams Are an Important Part of Oral Hygiene

Visiting Ideal Dental for a check-up every six months supports the efforts you make at home to promote good oral hygiene in your child. Find your local Ideal Dental office to request an appointment for your child if it has been more than six months since the last one.