You should start oral hygiene and getting your child used to using a toothbrush as young as possible, even before they have teeth that will need to be cleaned. Starting good toothbrushing habits when they’re very young will prevent meltdowns and having your child fight you when you try to brush their teeth when they get older.
As your child gets older, it’s normal for them to try to pull the toothbrush from you and brush their own teeth. There’s nothing wrong with letting them do this; in fact, it’s great for them to practice brushing their own teeth. Until they’re coordinated enough to brush their teeth on their own, though, you’ll need to still assist them when it’s time to brush their teeth. A good way to do this is to let them take a turn brushing their teeth, and then have them let you take a turn brushing their teeth as well. This way they feel like they have some sort of control over the task and will help them feel responsible for their hygiene. But it’s important for you to ensure that their teeth are actually getting clean every day.
So, when should your child start brushing their teeth on their own? We recommend you wait until your child is coordinated enough to tie their own shoes, which is usually around 6 years old. Every child is different, but this benchmark of being able to tie their own shoes is a pretty good marker of whether or not they’re ready and capable of doing a thorough job on their own.
Don’t forget to include flossing in your child’s daily hygiene routine. It may be difficult to get them to sit still as you floss their teeth, but by starting this habit when they’re young, you’ll have better luck getting them to tolerate this task every day. A great, child-friendly way to accomplish this is to get small y-shaped flossers, which will fit in your child’s mouth easier. You can get these flossers in fun colors and flavors, which will help motivate your child to use them.