Many times, parents that are using "Tooth Time is Party Time!" asked me this question: until when should I keep brushing my child's teeth? The short answer is, that it is slightly different between one child and the other. And the long answer is the following:
Leaving educational, child psychology, or maturity reasons aside, there is a very important factor that helps us - as parents - understand how and why we know until what age an adult should brush their child’s teeth. Brushing teeth requires a motor skill that children gain little by little and don’t completely develop until they’re about 6 years old.
How can we, as parents, know what our child’s motor skill level is? Very simple. Look at his and her drawings! When children start to draw, we know that they scribble. The first shapes they’re able to draw with a solid line are lines, circles and ovals. Why is that? Because when they hold a pencil at the beginning, they can’t turn their hand in every direction yet (right, left, up, and down). Their wrist stays rigid, and they move their whole arm to draw, which is why they’re able to make this circular movement. Brushing teeth is like drawing, or even harder. The next time you brush your teeth, pay attention to what you’re doing. Look at how you move your wrist in all 4 directions and rotate your hand, putting it at almost 90 degrees with respect to your forearm to brush certain teeth.
Look at the difficulty with which children write their names at 4 or 5 years old. Writing requires similar motor skills to making an “s,” an “a,” or an “h.” In the beginning, their letters are large, and their stroke is unsteady but, gradually over time, the letters become rounder, smaller, and you’ll start to notice the line become steadier. This is why they don’t start first grade until they’re 6 years old.
So, until they’re 6, most children won’t have the necessary motor skills for a good brushing. It looks like they’re brushing all their teeth, but they’re only really brushing some (their front teeth), and they’re not doing it well.
As you see the improvement in their writing, you can set with them who will start the first half or quarter and who will finish it. Then you to let them brush partially by themselves while reciting and having fun for the two minutes long.