How long should I brush and floss my child’s teeth?

Child brushing her teeth

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Your toddler may be able to feed themselves using forks and spoons just fine, but that doesn’t mean they are ready to brush their teeth by themselves just yet. Many parents try to coax their children into brushing their own teeth by age 4, but really, most children aren’t coordinated enough to brush their teeth properly (there’s the kicker) until they are 6 or 7. Some dentists say that children shouldn’t brush their own teeth until they are 10. Before you decide when your child should brush his or her own teeth, talk to your dentist at your child’s first dental check-up, which should be around 3 years of age.

When should I start brushing my child’s teeth?

As soon as your baby sprouts his or her first tooth, it’s time introduce the concept of brushing the tooth and gums. By starting this early, your baby will get used to the routine of brushing, and it won’t be as much of a struggle to brush their teeth in the toddler years. With babies, you can purchase a finger toothbrush or use a soft washcloth wrapped around your finger.

Tips for brushing your young child’s teeth

  • Up to age 2, use only plain water or toddler toothpaste that is fluoride-free. Young children will typically swallow any toothpaste, and swallowing too much fluoride toothpaste can cause tooth discoloration in permanent teeth.
  • Brush your child’s teeth twice a day, just as often as you brush your own teeth.
  • Spend at least 2 minutes brushing, and focus most of the time on the back teeth. Cavities are most likely to develop here than in the front teeth.
  • With flossing, use floss sticks instead of traditional floss.

Continue to brush your child’s teeth for them until your dentist gives you the go ahead to teach your child to brush on their own. Of course, the best way to teach your children how to brush their teeth is to lead by example. If you brush your teeth twice a day and show your children that you do so, your children will most likely develop just as good dental hygiene habits.

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