Do You Brush Your Preschooler’s Teeth?

You should be.

At least according to dentists.

It’s true; dentists claim that the biggest mistake parents make when it comes to their children’s teeth is that they don’t supervise brushing.

According to experts in the dental community, parents should be assisting with teeth brushing until a child is 8 years old. Which is not to say that you shouldn’t allow your youngster to handle a toothbrush until then. Rather, children can brush their teeth at any age, but parents need to finish up the job, especially with preschoolers, since they just don’t do a good job at getting the teeth really clean.

Experts say eight is generally the age at which a child can brush alone. Some children are able to do a decent job at age 6 while others don’t do a good job even at age 12. If you think your child is able to properly clean his or her teeth prior to turning 8, then you can back off. However, flossing is another matter. Dentists warn that if you floss incorrectly, you can damage your gums. Consequently, experts say parents should be flossing their children’s teeth up until the age of 10. This is especially important since most young children do not have the manual dexterity to manipulate floss correctly.

In regards to the type of toothpaste you should use to clean your preschooler’s teeth, dentists recommend graduating from toddler tooth cleaners. By the time your child turns four he or she is ready to use fluoride toothpaste. However, if your child resists the change, dentists say you can make the move gradually without compromising their dental health. According to dentists, toddler tooth cleaners are like traditional toothpastes in that they have surfactants in them. The surfactants cause the foaming action on the teeth (like a soap) and help clean the enamel better.

Bottom line: If you can only get your preschooler to brush with toddler tooth cleaner, then do so, as something is better than nothing.

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.