How to Transition to Independent Teeth Brushing
Sometime between the ages of six and nine, kids are usually ready to brush their teeth by themselves. Your family dentist in Decatur can help teach them proper techniques at their dental exams and cleanings, but how can you ensure they brush well at home?
Make Sure They’re Ready
Only you know when your little one is ready to brush by themselves. Watch them and see if they can manipulate the toothbrush effectively. If they don’t have the dexterity just yet, you can put off independent brushing a little longer.
It’s a good idea to let kids brush on their own in front of you until they’re older so that you can catch any technique problems.
Explain the “Why”
The simplest explanation is often the best, and if kids know why they need to do something, they’re more likely to follow through.
- Explain that brushing and flossing remove plaque, an invisible, sticky film that contains germs.
- If left on teeth too long, these germs can lead to tiny holes in their teeth that create cavities.
- Plaque starts forming after we eat and drink, so it’s important to brush at least twice a day.
- What we eat plays a big part in the health of our teeth and gums. Remind your child that the reason we stay away from sugary foods and drinks is to protect our teeth.
Explain the “How”
Buying your child a timer is a fun way to add structure to brushing, along with these tips:
- Everyone should brush for about two minutes in the morning and two minutes in the evening.
- Put a pea-sized squirt of fluoride toothpaste on the toothbrush.
- Starting on the back teeth, brush with little circles on all the surfaces (top, back, and front), working your way to the front teeth. Don’t forget the insides!
- Spit out the toothpaste.
Kids may need more help learning to floss, which they should do each day.