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The Importance of Checking Tooth Brushing Skills

Tooth-Brushing-SkillsLa Mesa, CA – Does your young child brush his teeth on his own? Do you check to make sure she is brushing correctly? One mistake parents make is letting their young children take over solo toothbrushing duty too early, and it can have a negative impact on your child’s smile.

“Teaching proper oral care habits at a young age is crucial,” says La Mesa pediatric dentist Dr. Santiago Surillo. “I know parents are anxious to teach their children independence, but it’s important that you are an active part of your child’s oral care routine to ensure brushing and flossing is done properly and adequately.”

And that means you may have to continue with toothbrushing assistance for a bit longer. Dr. Surillo offers parents these tips for how to tell when your child might be ready for solo brushing:

  • Is your child between the ages of 6 and 9? You may still need to remind your child to brush, but typically between the ages of six and nine is a good range to allow a child the responsibility of solo brushing.
  • Can your child tie his own shoelaces? Reaching every area of the mouth takes some dexterity, so when your child can tie his or her own shoes, that’s sign the hand dexterity is there to brush solo.
  • Does your child write in cursive? Cursive writing displays the fine motor skills that can help your child easily brush his own teeth.
  • Does your child take care of other personal hygiene activities on his or her own? If you daughter can shower without assistance, and wash and brush her own hair, these are signs that personal hygiene is a priority and oral care can be added to the list.
  • Are you satisfied with their brushing technique? If you’re ready to hand over the toothbrush, check your children’s skills for a few days to a week to ensure they really can brush properly on their own.

“Once your child is ready for brushing on his own, set him up for success,” says Dr. Surillo. “Make sure your child always has a soft-bristled brush, and uses only a small amount of toothpaste at each brushing. Time the child to be sure he or she is brushing for at least two minutes – you can sing a song, or even look for toothbrushes that have timers built in to help with this. And most importantly, make sure your child sees a pediatric dentist regularly.”

Early childhood caries, or tooth decay, is the number one chronic childhood issue, so be sure you take the time to ensure your children have everything they need for proper brushing and flossing. If you have any questions, contact Dr. Surillo at 619-461-6166.