Although your baby’s teeth won’t come in until they’re about six months old, you can start wiping your baby’s gums after each feeding. As your baby’s teeth come in, you can gently brush and floss them to prevent tooth decay and keep them healthy. But at what point should you start teaching your child dental health habits so they can begin to develop the skills they need to care for their teeth?
Start Between Age Three and Five
Most small children don’t have the fine motor skills they need to properly brush and floss their teeth. However, as soon as your child can hold and use a toothbrush, you can begin teaching them how to care for their smile—generally around age three to five.
Before having them brush their own teeth, you can try to have them brush the teeth of a stuffed animal or toy to get the idea. Keep in mind that although your child may insist on doing the task themselves, you will need to follow up to be sure their teeth are clean.
By age six, most kids are able to properly brush their teeth on their own. However, you should continue to supervise them until you feel confident in their abilities, which may be until age seven or eight .
What About Flossing?
Although you should be flossing your child’s teeth as soon as they have two teeth that touch, eventually, your child will want to floss themselves rather than have an adult do it for them.
Flossing may take a bit longer to master than brushing—perhaps until the age of eight or even 10 . You can teach kids to floss as early as they are able to hold and use floss, but supervise until you feel they can do a good job on their own.
Things to Keep in Mind When Teaching Kids About Dental Health
There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to teaching your kids about proper oral health and dental care habits.
Use the right toothbrush, meaning one that’s appropriately sized for your child and their teeth. Using a toothbrush that’s too big or too small can result in frustration for both you and your little one.
Don’t wait to schedule that first dental visit. Children should first see the dentist right
around the time their first teeth come in to ensure everything looks good .
Make the process as fun for children as possible to create a positive experience. After all, kids will need to take good care of their teeth and gums for life! Have them choose their toothbrush and toothpaste, pick a song to brush their teeth to, or even play dentist and “inspect” each other’s teeth when the job is done.
Have You Started Teaching Your Kids About Dental Health Yet?
Have you started teaching your kids proper brushing and flossing techniques yet? It’s never too late to make excellent oral care a practice at your home. Your kid-friendly dentist can give you even more tips on how to ensure your little one’s smile stays healthy as they grow!