Our last article shared insights into what parents need to know about baby teeth from infancy through kindergarten. Now, we’d like to share some insights into what you need to know about your child’s oral health during the next stages and how to help them maintain healthy teeth throughout high school and the rest of their lives. Developing good habits on how to brush your teeth and how long you should brush your teeth is critical. But we suspect that you have more questions, and we’re hoping to provide you with the information you need to know.
What parents need to know about maintaining healthy teeth after kindergarten.
As we shared in our previous article, most kids won’t lose their first tooth until six or seven. For most kids, this means first or second grade. Further, parents will need to take responsibility for brushing their kids’ teeth until around age six. After that, most kids can take on their oral care for themselves, though perhaps with some prompts and reminders along the way. Here is what you should know.
When teaching your child how to brush their teeth, be sure to teach them proper tooth brushing techniques. Have your child place their toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to their gum line. The best way to brush is to move the toothbrush back and forth very gently in tooth-wide strokes. The entire process of brushing teeth should take two minutes and include the outer, inner, and chewing surfaces of your child’s teeth. When cleaning the inside portion of the front teeth, it is easiest to tilt the brush at a vertical angle and then perform up and down strokes.
After brushing, your child should floss their teeth. At the least, children should floss at least once per day. As with brushing, there is a proper technique to flossing their teeth. Using about 18 inches of dental floss, teach your child to hold the floss tightly between their thumbs and forefingers. Use a gentle rubbing motion to guide the floss in between the teeth. Encourage your child not to force or snap the floss in between the teeth, as this can be damaging to their gum tissue. Start in the back of the mouth on one side, and work towards the middle. Repeat on the other side, and then move on to the opposite section of teeth.
The third tactic to help maintain healthy teeth relates to rinsing with an age-appropriate mouthwash. Parents should have their children stick to a non-fluoridated, alcohol-free mouthwash until after your child can safely swish and spit out the rinse. There are several kid-friendly, antibacterial types of mouthwash on the market that are safe for children to use at young ages before they are ready for a fluoride rinse. Once your child knows how to rinse and spit, then a fluoridated mouthwash is best.
What to expect in tooth development from kindergarten through the high school years.
Parents should know that most children will have their set of 20 primary teeth by the time they are three years old. Primary teeth will start to fall out around age six or seven, and permanent teeth will begin coming in at that same time. By the time your child is done with high school and is around the age of 21, they will have 32 permanent teeth (often referred to as adult teeth). Sixteen teeth are located in the upper jaw, and the remaining 16 are in the lower jaw.
There are four types of teeth.
- Incisors: these front teeth can be found in the upper and lower jaws and have a thin cutting edge that works to cut food.
- Canines: these pointy teeth are located on both sides of the incisors in the upper and lower jaws and are designed to help you tear food in preparation for chewing.
- Premolars: these teeth have flat surfaces and are designed to crush food.
- Molars: larger than premolars, these teeth have broad, flat surfaces that grind food.
Take your child to a board-certified pediatric dentist
Pediatric dentistry requires additional training beyond that of general dentistry. After all, when it comes to children, kids’ dentists must deal with various moods, fears, anxieties, and developmental delays. Pediatric dentists’ additional training helps them learn how to work with kids from infancy through their teenage years.
Board-certified pediatric dentists have undergone intensive training that demonstrates the utmost competence in working with children. Dr. Jaynes, in particular, is not only board-certified but has been honored by D Magazine in their list of Best Dentists in Dallas and as a Texas Monthly Super Dentist. Dr. Jaynes has participated in dedicated training related to the dental care of chronically ill children and special needs children. He belongs to the American Dental Association, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the Dallas County Dental Society, the Greater Plano Dental Society, the Paul P. Taylor Association of Pediatric Dentistry, the Plano Young Dentist Study Club, the Southwestern Society of Pediatric Dentistry, the Texas Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, and the Texas Dental Association. As you can see, we take training and dedication to pediatric dentistry quite seriously!
If your child hasn’t yet had an orthodontic evaluation by age seven, now is the time.
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children have an early orthodontic evaluation by the age of seven, which means by the end of first grade or second grade. This might seem early to you, but parents should know that having an evaluation doesn’t mean that your child will need to start orthodontic treatment right away. The early orthodontic evaluation goal is to catch potential abnormalities early on so that a treatment plan can be determined. Not only does this help shorten the amount of time that your child will need to receive orthodontic treatment, but it will also help parents to plan their financial requirements related to the treatment.
What to expect during your child’s first visit to see Dr. Jaynes.
Your child’s first trip to the dentist can be both exciting as well as full of trepidation. Though it is recommended that children see the dentist around their first birthday or shortly after their first tooth comes in, parents want to know what to expect. During your child’s initial exam, Dr. Jaynes will take a complete medical history, answer any questions that you may have, and partner with you to ensure your child’s excellent ongoing oral health. In some cases, we might decide that it is best to perform X-ray diagnostics to set a baseline for your child’s oral anatomy and health. Dental X-rays are very cost-effective and safe, and are a vital component of a dental examination.
The best foods for healthy teeth as your child grows
Teaching your child how to eat nutritious foods rather than grabbing chips and soda is essential for not just their oral health. Sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda, fruit drinks, sports drinks, coffee, and tea can contribute to both cavities and obesity. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry encourages a well-balanced and nutrient-dense diet for people of all ages, especially children in this age group.
Some of the best foods and drinks for your teeth include the following:
- Dairy items, such as cheese, yogurt, and milk.
- Leafy vegetables, such as spinach, lettuce, and kale.
- Fruits, such as apples and pears.
- Meats and fatty fish.
- Unsweetened tea and coffee.
- Sweet potatoes.
- Garlic and onions.
When we consume good foods, we tend to crave less of the bad stuff and do good things for our teeth. Parents of school-aged children should also be aware of the risks associated with foods that can be purchased out of vending machines. Vending machine items tend to have limited nutritional value, not to mention are often overpriced. Parents can help their children by sending healthy snacks from home and discouraging purchases from vending machines.
Dr. Jaynes and the team can help with your kindergarten to high-school-aged kids’ dental needs for healthy teeth.
At Dr. Jaynes, we love to meet kids and help set them on the path to good oral hygiene. With tooth decay as the number one chronic infectious disease in the United States, parents and pediatric dentists need to partner together to help our children develop and maintain good oral health and healthy teeth.
If it is time for your child’s first dental appointment, or they are just due for their twice-a-year visit, be sure to request an appointment for your child using our easy-to-use online form. We look forward to seeing you and your child.