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When Should My Kids Start Brushing Their Own Teeth?

All parents want the best dental health for their kids. But sometimes it’s hard to know when to make the transition from brushing your child’s teeth to having them brush their own teeth. Never fear! We’ll tell you the best time to pass the reins to your kids. Here are some tips that will help you know when your child is ready to brush their teeth solo.

1. Dentist Gives the OK

Talk to your child’s dentist. Their dentist will best understand your child’s oral health and dental needs, and they will be able to ascertain whether or not your kid is ready to start brushing on their own.

2. Your Child is 6-9 Years Old

When your child is six to nine years old, they are in the sweet spot for starting to brush their teeth solo. Of course it differs child to child, but this is a good ballpark.

3. Homework

A good rule of thumb is paying attention to when your child gets homework sent home to complete for the first time. When they are writing in school and expected to hold a pencil for long periods of time, they are ready to brush their own teeth without help.

4. Tying Their Shoes

Your child’s shoe-tying abilities are closely linked with the same fine motor skills that they’ll use while brushing their teeth. If they excel at tying their shoes solo, they are probably ready to brush their teeth without your help.

5. Personal Responsibility

Personal responsibility is such a big part of brushing your teeth. When you notice your child demonstrating personal responsibility, it will help you know they are up to the task of brushing their teeth alone.

6. The Tablet Test

Many parents use the tablet test to determine whether or not their kids are ready to brush their own teeth. Before your child brushes their teeth, give them a colored chewable tablet (available in most pharmacies) that sticks to plaque, and see how much of the color they can remove from their teeth. You need to see them do it successfully many times before they can do it on their own.

The Bottom Line

It’s important to remember that when it comes to dental hygiene, your job as a parent is never done. Keep an eye on your child’s brushing, even as they start doing it on their own. While it’s fine to let younger kids practice on their own, make sure to check their progress to see that they are learning good dental care habits. And don’t forget to help them with flossing: one idea is to use fun animal flossers so your kid will stand still for it!

If you have questions about your child’s dental health, contact Stratman Family Dentistry today to speak to our friendly team!

When Should Kids First Go to the Dentist?

It’s never too early to teach your child to practice good oral hygiene. In fact, you should take your child to his or her first dentist visit as soon as their first tooth erupts, which can be as young as six months old!

While it might sound crazy to take such young children to the dentist, here are reasons why it will only help your child in the future.

The Role of Baby Teeth

Baby teeth are temporary, but their importance is long-lasting. They are the first teeth that your child will use to chew, talk, and smile, so it is important to track their healthy development from day one. Having a dentist by your side from the time your child’s first tooth erupts will give him or her a detailed sense of what your child’s dental needs are.

What to Look Out for With Baby Teeth

Kids don’t always practice the best dental hygiene, even if you’re the one brushing their teeth. Cavities are quite common in children, so it is best to avoid sugary candy from early on. When their baby teeth begin to loosen, it is important to instruct your children to gently wiggle them until they fall out to avoid bleeding and pain.

When to Go to the Dentist

Like adults, children should visit the dentist every six months, as this timeframe allows your child to become familiar and comfortable with visits to the dentist over time and help then maintain their good oral hygiene. We offer complimentary beverages, toys, and books to help your child feel at ease in our office.

We offer family block scheduling so that you don’t have to take out large chunks of time and juggle appointments just to accommodate your spouse and your children. At Stratman Family Dentistry, it is our goal to provide the best dental services for you and your whole family without any hassle. If you would like to bring your child in for a first visit, contact us today!

Why Are Cavities So Common in Children?

Cavities — a word everyone hopes NOT to hear at the dentist. A majority of people will have at least one cavity in their lifetime, but why does it seem like children get them more frequently than adults? Around 30 to 40% of children have dental disease, making it the most chronic childhood disease. Even parents who routinely brush their child’s teeth (or make sure their child brushes their own teeth) sometimes have to face the fact that their kid has cavities.

There are a few different reasons why they’re a common dental concern for children. It’s important to know the causes behind tooth decay so you can help your child avoid it!

Sugar Intake

Candy, cereal, soda, and plenty of other processed foods that kids love to snack on contain sugar. Cutting down on sugar and taming your child’s sweet tooth is one way to help them avoid cavities.

If your child is an infant, take care to avoid “baby bottle tooth decay.” Don’t let your child fall asleep with their bottle, and limit sugary drinks right before naptime or bedtime. You should also be wary of dipping pacifiers in sugar, honey, or syrup.

Inadequate At-Home Dental Care

It isn’t enough to make sure your child is brushing their teeth — you should make sure that they’re doing so properly. Many children don’t use adequate technique, making them more susceptible to cavities. A good rule of thumb that if they can’t tie their shoelaces by themselves then they shouldn’t be brushing by themselves. Generally, children should be able to brush their teeth on their own around the age of 6 or 7. You should still check to make sure they aren’t missing any spots.

Kids should brush at morning and at night. The toothbrush should be at a 45-degree angle, and it should be moved in a gentle, short back-and-forth motion. Make sure they are brushing for a full two minutes and not rushing through the job. Don’t forget they should brush their tongue too!


Cavities are a result of bacterial infection, and this type of infection is contagious. That means that parents and caregivers can actually pass on their cariogenic bacteria to their kids through in a process called vertical transmission. Some examples of this include using the same utensils and cups, trying foods before giving them to your child, and cleaning your child’s pacifier with your mouth.

If you need help preventing or treating cavities, contact our office! We can help with more dental care tips and we provide sealants, fillings, and fluoride treatment to combat cavities.

Hygiene Incognito: Sending Kids to School with Good Dental Habits

1. Privileges:

Regardless of age, we all like control of some kind. Think of the activities your child desires to do themselves, and sometimes so intensely, you get “the whine.” Maybe it’s choosing their own outfit or eating their favorite cereal. It could be playing with a friend before homework’s completed or having a peer stay for dinner. Use these ‘wants’ as a privilege or prize when good dental habits are kept. Most parents use some kind of rewards system based on behavior and academics, but rarely incorporate dental care and hygiene. Make ‘taking care of our teeth’ your newest family norm.

2. Brush To the Beat!

Tell your kids you’re fed up with the boredom of brushing your teeth before bed and in the morning before work/school. Ask them for ideas on how to “spice it up,” and suggest an idea of your own – Music! Allow your kids to choose a song each week, which signals to the entire family: It’s time to brush and floss! When your kids forget to brush or seem to procrastinate, no need to yell or harp. Just turn up the tunes and watch them run to the sink. The game will become habit in no time!

3. Lunch with a Crunch

If you pack your child’s lunch, or even an after school snack, make it something that helps dental health. Pack snack foods like carrots, apples, and even nuts. If your child helps you pack, ask, “Is there a crunch in your lunch?” This too can become a norm for every mealtime when tooth-brushing is not an option. Include a water bottle in addition to the juice or drink of choice. This helps to rinse the particles out of your kids’ mouths, leaving less likelihood for cavities to develop.

Sure, it will take some time to lead a child into a lifestyle of good dental habits, but just imagine the cheers when your kid(s) receive an A+ from Dr. Matthew Stratman at your next family-block appointment.

For more ideas on how to encourage good dental habits and a lifetime of healthy teeth, or to schedule an appointment, please contact us. We look forward to serving you.

Tips For Teaching Your Child To Brush Their Teeth

It’s no secret that cavities love the teeth of children. Kids have a tendency to eat a lot of sugary treats and aren’t always the best at keeping up with their oral hygiene. To keep your children’s dental health in good shape, teach them how to brush properly and start early!

Teaching your child to brush their teeth

Lets face it, brushing teeth isn’t a very fun activity for children, so developing good brushing habits early in life will help to keep teeth in good shape for a long time. But it’s not always easy to convince your kids of the many benefits of daily brushing. For parents who are looking for tips on teaching your child to brush twice every day, we have some suggestions!

Make it fun

Children can learn a lot while having fun, so try making a game out of brushing your teeth. Try to see who can make the most bubbles while they brush, or sing a song to see if they can keep brushing until the song is over. A little healthy competition never hurt anybody; you can even make a game of who can reach the most teeth.

Preparation is key

Go to the store and let them pick out their toothbrush and toothpaste. Make a big deal about how they are going to be brushing their own teeth now. When the time comes, they’ll be ready for it!

Teach by example

Children want to be just like their parents when they are young, so use that to your advantage! For the first few weeks, brush your teeth together so you can show them how the pros do it.

Make sure you teach them to brush the whole surface of their teeth, even those hard to reach places. And don’t forget flossing! If you want more tips on getting your child to brush their teeth, Dr. Stratman is here to help. Happy brushing!