What age should I let my child brush their own teeth?

There are 2 parts to the question what age should I let my child brush their own teeth so lets break it down.

From a very early age it is great to involve your child in brushing their own teeth. Give them a baby tooth brush and let them chew it attempt to brush with it or just generally play with it. Be sure of course to supervise at all times.  However it is really important that you complete a thorough brushing for your younger  child twice every day no matter how well they appear to be  doing it. So when is it safe to hand over the responsibility to your child and let them brush themselves. We need to consider a few points

3d human with toothbrush and toothpaste

Manual Dexterity & Toothbrushing

The first question is does your child have the manual dexterity to brush their own teeth thoroughly? Generally if your child can tie their own shoelaces there is a good chance that they will have enough manual dexterity to brush their teeth. As a starting point  we say 8 years of age is a reasonable target age to aim for. Clearly for some children this will happen sooner and later for others

Flying solo – brush their own teeth unsupervised.

This is a trickier one.  Once  your child is able to brush their teeth and can do it when you stand and watch it is tempting to take a step back and leave them to it. It is  much better to stay with them while they do it and review their effort, picking up the bits that they miss. Your parenting will not always be appreciated but in my experience kids are very good at brushing the back teeth  but  commonly  miss out the front ones.   In general it is good to supervise when your child is brushing their own teeth  for a good few months. After that you can taper it off  a bit but still inspect and review their technique a couple of times a week. Ultimately really good tooth brusing is a great defence against tooth decay.   In another post we will go into some ideas that will help to keep your child motivated to brush well and a really good foolproof routine that you can teach your child to make sure that bits don’t get missed when they brush their own teeth.