When should kids get their tooth-brushing licence?

Your kids might be old enough to be starting school this term, but they’re not quite ready to be left alone with their toothbrush just yet! Researchers recorded a group of 5 year-olds, 11 year-olds, and 18-22 year-olds to see exactly how much plaque they removed when they brushed.

They found:

  • 5 year-olds only brushed 25% of the surfaces of their teeth
  • 11 year-olds only brushed 50% of the surfaces of their teeth
  • 18-22 year-olds brushed 67% of the surfaces of their teeth

Although children in the preschool age range begin to demonstrate significant improvements in their ability to manipulate the toothbrush, parental involvement is still needed. However, instead of performing the oral hygiene, parents can switch to active supervision.

The magic age at which kids can brush their own teeth seems to be sometime between the ages of 6 and 9.

Every child is different though so you will need to individually figure out when your child is ready to begin brushing without any help. A good way to do this is to use plaque disclosing tablets or solutions. These chewable tablets turn the plaque on your child’s teeth a different colour so that it is easy to visualize and remove. As long as your children are removing almost all of the colour-stained plaque from their teeth, they are able to brush by themselves.

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