mother brushes baby's teeth

When Should Your Child Start Brushing Their Own Teeth?

Most parents have experienced it – the daily struggle to get a toothbrush through their child’s mouth. There’s usually a little bit of wrestling, bribing, and negotiating. So, when should your child start brushing their own teeth? Proper dental care is an important habit to instill in children at an early age. But how soon is too soon to let a child brush his or her own teeth? 

When to Clean Baby’s Mouth

Did you know you can actually get your young child used to the routine of brushing teeth before their first set of chompers have even popped through their gums? You can use a clean, wet washcloth to simply rub softly on your child’s gums so they’re familiar with the act of brushing teeth. You can also purchase soft, rubbery toothbrushes that slip over one of your fingers. These are also a great tool for gently rubbing gums, and can be used when teeth come through as well.

BONUS TIP: Wet a washcloth and freeze it so your teething baby can gum on it. It’s a helpful, natural teething remedy that can alleviate pain in their gums. 

When to Start Brushing

Thankfully, there’s a simple way to remember when it’s time to start brushing your child’s teeth. As soon as your baby has a tooth, it’s the time! Depending on your child, they may start teething as early as four months. Some babies may not show signs of teeth until closer to one year. Either way, just keep your eyes peeled for teeth, and you’ll know it’s time to use a soft-bristled brush on those pearly whites. If your baby is on the younger side, you don’t need to use toothpaste just yet. 

When to Use Toothpaste

Typically around age one, most kids have a tooth, and that means they’re ready for their first pediatric dental appointment. Use this as an opportunity to discuss which toothpaste is best for your child, and start implementing a routine that introduces fluoride-free toothpaste with parental supervision if you’re ready. It’s also fine, at this age, to continue cleaning out your child’s mouth with a brush and water. You know your child best, so if you don’t think they’re ready to play around with a clean, dry toothbrush, you can still maintain all tooth brushing duties. 

Between the ages of two and three, your child probably feels independent enough to begin brushing on their own. However, adult supervision is still strongly recommended for twice-daily brushing. Also at this age, it may be time to use toothpaste if you haven’t already established this part of your routine. Children this age can usually spit out their toothpaste by now, so you could switch to a fluoride version if you and your pediatric dentist feel the time is right.

When Can My Kid Brush Their Own Teeth?

If you’ve reached the aforementioned milestones by the age of three or thereabouts, you can probably hand over the toothbrush and give them more control of their oral hygiene. It is recommended you still keep an eye on them, but the good news is you can take a step back from wrestling a toothbrush around in their mouths.

It’s always recommended to supervise your child based on your own instincts, but hopefully, by age ten, your little one can efficiently brush with no more than a gentle reminder to do so. If you have any questions about your child’s specific dental care routine, feel free to give the experts at Utah’s own Timpanogas Dental a call.


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