Caring for Your Child’s Growing Smile

Here are some tips for helping your child take care of their changing mouth.

Children usually start losing their baby teeth around age six. By age twelve, most kids have all their adult teeth until their wisdom teeth begin to erupt in their late teens.

The changes that happen to a child’s mouth over these six critical years require particular care to make sure the adult teeth grow in straight, healthy, and cavity-free. This time is referred to as the mixed dentition stage because your child will have both baby (primary) and adult (permanent) teeth.

Caring for Mouths with Mixed Dentition

Helping your child care for their teeth can be a challenge, and having a mixture of baby and permanent teeth can add to the difficulty.

Here are some ways to make sure your child’s mouth stays healthy during this time of change.

Brushing and Flossing – Flossing might seem unnecessary when your child has large gaps between their teeth. But helping them learn the proper technique now can help them establish a healthy habit they will carry with them into adulthood. Brushing the teeth, tongue, and gums twice daily in a gentle, circular motion with a fluoridated toothpaste will help your child keep their teeth cavity-free and healthy.

Proper Diet – Children are notoriously picky eaters. Keep offering healthy foods regularly, and eventually, they will come around. While you’re waiting for your little one’s tastes to expand, limit their intake of refined carbohydrates like snack cakes and bread. Fruit snacks are often loaded with sugar and stick to tooth surfaces, which can cause tooth decay. Juices should be limited because they offer little nutritional value and sometimes have added sugar.

Professional Cleanings and Exams – Bringing your child in for regular exams helps their hygienist and dentist watch for developmental and orthodontic issues that may benefit from early treatment. If you’re having trouble getting your child to cooperate during brushing and flossing time, ask their hygienist or dentist to show them. Sometimes someone other than a parent or guardian can get a child to listen and learn the right technique.

Fluoride – Fluoridated toothpaste and fluoridated water can help your child prevent cavities. Regular fluoride treatments during their cleaning appointments provide an extra layer of protection.

Sealants – Dental sealants are an easy way to help your child prevent cavities, especially in the back teeth that their small hands have trouble reaching. A sealant is a clear or tooth-colored resin that is flowed over the grooves of a tooth and then hardened with a blue light. This creates a smooth surface that is easier to clean. Some sealant materials even contain fluoride to help strengthen the tooth underneath. Studies have shown an 80% reduction in cavities when sealants are used as part of a child’s treatment.

Growing up is hard and being a parent of a growing child is a challenge in itself. Taking the time now to help your child care for their mouth will not only help them learn healthy oral care habits but will make your life simpler in the long run by saving your child time in the dental chair.