For both children and adults, not brushing teeth properly and thoroughly can lead to cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease. Young children need help brushing their teeth because they do not yet have the skills and coordination to do a thorough job themselves, but even as children get older, they should be supervised while brushing to make sure they are doing it correctly.
Children start teething at a very young age, and you can begin brushing their baby teeth using a toddler-sized toothbrush and a smear of toothpaste about the size of a grain of rice. From ages three to six, you can increase the amount of toothpaste you use on them to a pea-sized amount, and begin teaching your child how to brush their own teeth. It is important to use a low-fluoride toothpaste during these years just in case your child accidentally swallows any toothpaste. After age six, your child should be old enough to spit out and not swallow toothpaste, and they can begin using regular toothpaste. However, even if your child has developed the manual dexterity to brush their own teeth, you should still help them to make sure they reach their back teeth and all the surfaces.
Every child is different, and some children might learn proper brushing techniques earlier than others. Your child might be an expert brusher by age eight and not need your help anymore, or he might need supervision until he is eleven. No matter the speed at which your child develops, you should always reinforce the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene. Instilling healthy habits at a young age can prevent numerous oral health problems when your child is older. For more tips on managing your child’s oral health, contact our office.