Is My Son Old Enough to Brush His Teeth?

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Parents

My 3-year-old son is learning to do many things all by himself. Is now the time to start letting him brush his own teeth?
–Erin

It's fine to let him practice brushing his teeth before or after you brush them, but kids this age do not have the motor skills needed to do a good job brushing on their own. Most children don't develop these skills until about age 6 or 7. Even then, you still may need to supervise.

When brushing, use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Make sure your son spits out the toothpaste after brushing and does not swallow it. When finished, have him rinse his mouth out with water.

If he wants to practice on his own, make sure he brushes all the surfaces of both the top and bottom teeth, as well as his tongue and gumline.  

If you have questions or concerns about your son's teeth, talk to his doctor or dentist.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: April 2011

Have a question? Email us.

Although we can't reply personally, you may see your question posted to this page in the future. If you're looking for medical advice, a diagnosis, or treatment, consult your doctor or other qualified medical professional. If this is an emergency, contact emergency services in your area.



Related Resources

OrganizationAmerican Dental Association (ADA) The ADA provides information for dental patients and consumers.
Web SiteMouthPower This site was created by the Dr. Samuel D. Harris National Museum of Dentistry in Baltimore, Maryland. Through games and other activities, kids can learn how to take care of their teeth and mouth.
Web SiteZero to Three Zero to Three is a national, nonprofit organization that promotes the health and development of infants and toddlers by educating parents, professionals and policymakers.


Related Articles

How Do I Care for My Baby's Teeth? Find out what the experts have to say.
Keeping Your Child's Teeth Healthy Here are the basics about how to care for your child's teeth - and when.
Dental Injuries Instruction Sheet A knocked-out permanent tooth is a dental emergency. Find out what to do in this printer-friendly sheet.
Fluoride and Water Keeping kids' teeth healthy requires more than just daily brushing. Learn about fluoride, a substance found naturally in water that plays an important role in healthy teeth.




Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

© 1995-2012 The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth. All rights reserved.



 

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