Taking care of your child’s teeth is the best way to help their smiles. At a young age your kids will look to you as an example, and need your help throughout the process. In this article, we want to discuss the best timeline for helping kids go from having their teeth brushed by you, to brushing with you, to brushing on their own. We also want to discuss tools and techniques that can help make brushing and flossing easier, safer, and more effective for kids at different stages of life. That said, nothing beats a dental appointment with a family dentist. If you are near Lewiston Maine, and need a dentist, give us a call. 

How Do I Take Care Of My Baby's Teeth?

Brushing an infant’s teeth is going to be different from brushing the teeth of a younger kid. You need to have the right tools. One quick thing to mention is that it is recommended that you see a dentist for your child when either their first tooth erupts or when they get to 6 months old (whichever comes first). During that appointment your dentist can help answer questions about oral health for infants, give you demonstrations on how to take care of your child’s teeth, and make sure that there are no early issues regarding teething and tooth development. 

What You Need For Cleaning An Infant's Teeth:

  • Infant Toothbrush: An infant toothbrush is different from a normal toothbrush for adults or kids. It is specially made to be used gently. 
  • Infant Toothpaste: The toothpaste we use as adults shouldn’t be swallowed, for that reason kid’s and infant toothpaste often has a different formula in case a child instinctually swallows the toothpaste. When using infant toothpaste use a very small amount. 
  • Flossing: As soon as your child has two teeth that touch, you should start flossing those teeth. You can use the same floss you use to take care of your child’s teeth. 

When your child gets to age two, you should start teaching them to spit while you are brushing their teeth. This is usually the age when they are able to start developing that habit. 

When Are My Kids Old Enough To Brush Their Own Teeth?

Here is a quick timeline regarding how to take care of your kids’ teeth. We would like to note that different children develop differently, some children might be ready to transition to taking care of their own teeth ahead or behind schedule. It is important to consider how your child is feeling when making decisions about their health. 

  • Age 0-6: For most children, brushing their own teeth won’t be easy before they are around age six. As infants you should be brushing and flossing for them using infant toothpaste. Around age two, as they learn how to spit you might be able to start transitioning to using the same toothpaste you use, or another child’s toothpaste brand. As they reach age 5-6 you should demonstrate how you brush your teeth and work with them. Additionally, their dentist can also help teach them to brush. 
  • Age 6-10: As your child starts to brush their own teeth and floss, you will likely want to work with them and make sure they are brushing twice per day and flossing. Teeth cleaning charts with stickers are a great way to make sure your kids are brushing their teeth effectively.  

How Do I Know When My Child Ready To Brush Their Own Teeth

There are two factors to consider regarding when your kids are ready to brush their own teeth: 

  • Dexterity: Even if your child feels they are ready to brush their teeth or they are excited to do it, they do need to have the dexterity to do it effectively. Being able to grip the toothbrush and brush their teeth requires dexterity that many kids develop around the age of five. 
  • Responsibility: Another thing to consider is whether or not your child has shown that they are ready for the responsibility. There is definitely a transitionary period for kids where they can go from having their teeth brushed, to brushing their teeth with their parents present, to being trusted to do it on their own. 
A child high-fiving her dentist after an exam

Schedule A Family Dental Appointment in Maine

Nothing can beat the help of a dentist when it comes to tracking your child’s oral health, teaching them healthy habits, and answering your unique questions. If you need an appointment in southern Maine, give us a call.