A Parents’ Guide: Healthy Teeth for School-Aged Kids
Dental Health from Kindergarten Through High School Graduation
Brush up on what’s normal development for your child’s age.
Kids lose the majority of their baby teeth between ages six and 12.
Physical and mental development skyrockets as kids reach school age. Their development includes the start of losing baby teeth and gaining shiny new adult teeth. Your child will shed all of their baby teeth by age 11 or 12 and have almost all of their permanent teeth by 13. It is important that your child know how to maintain healthy teeth because they only get one set of adult teeth.
This handy chart makes it easy to see the average ages of baby tooth eruption and loss.
Teens can start getting their wisdom teeth as early as 17.
Wisdom teeth are the last adult teeth to erupt, often erupting in your child’s late teens or even their early 20s. Wisdom teeth can trigger a few different oral health issues, leaving many pediatric dentists to recommend removal before they begin to erupt.
Early or late tooth loss is also normal — just check in with their dentist.
When you look at a baby teeth chart, keep in mind that these ages are only averages. Some kids experience earlier or later loss of their baby teeth. As long as their smile is being checked by a dentist during routine six-month appointments, there often isn’t a reason to worry.
Create an at-home dental care routine that works.
Teach your child the 2×2 brushing rule and make it a habit.
An easy way to remind kids about healthy dental care habits is to teach them the 2×2 rule for brushing. This advises them to brush twice a day for two minutes each time. It’s handy to provide kids with a sand timer or some other method to make sure they brush for a full two minutes. You can also play a two-minute brushing video on YouTube for younger kids or have older kids and teens play two minutes of their favorite song. Brushing is an important step in maintaining healthy teeth.
Flossing before bedtime brushing is highly recommended.
Flossing daily is something every child should be doing as part of their at-home dental care routine. We recommend flossing before their bedtime brushing sessions. This ensures there isn’t any stuck food in your child’s teeth before they head to bed. Using flosser picks can help encourage kids to floss if they aren’t fans of string floss. Flossing is actually just as important as brushing when it comes to having healthy teeth.
Choose alcohol-free mouthwashes for your child or teen.
There are many different kinds of mouthwashes available for kids as well as teens and adults. We recommend choosing a product that is ADA-recommended and alcohol-free. An alcohol-free fluoride mouthwash will help prevent cavities and protect the healthy microbes in your child’s mouth which is important if you want healthy teeth.
Check in with your older kid to make sure they’re brushing and flossing properly.
Most kids begin to brush their teeth on their own around the age of seven. It’s a good idea to routinely check in with your older kids and even younger teens to make sure they’re brushing long enough and thoroughly. A subtle way of doing this without affecting their independence is to simply brush together in the morning or at night.
Bring in your child or teen for biannual checkups.
Most kids should visit their dentist for a checkup and cleaning every six months.
Just like adults, kids of all ages should see their dentist for a checkup and a deep cleaning at least every six months. In some cases of chronic tooth decay or if your child is receiving orthodontic care, their appointments might need to be scheduled more frequently.
Book an orthodontic evaluation around your child’s seventh birthday.
Orthodontic evaluations should happen earlier than you might expect. The ADA recommends that kids get their first orthodontic evaluation around the age of seven years. In some cases, you may take your child back for a follow-up evaluation a couple of years later.
Teens should continue visiting a pediatric dentist until their 18th birthday.
Pediatric dentists are kids’ dentists, but that doesn’t mean they only provide care to youngsters. We encourage the parents of our teen patients to continue seeing us for their child’s dental care up until they are an adult.
Keep an eye on what foods and drinks they’re consuming.
Teach kids about healthy foods rather than telling them what not to have.
As a parent, you already know that kids are often more open to your suggestions when you teach them something rather than tell them what to do. As kids become aware of the foods they eat, it’s a good idea to begin teaching them what’s healthy and what isn’t.
Once kids enter school, you won’t have as much control over what they eat or snack on. Teaching them about the importance of healthy food for a healthy body and in turn healthy teeth will help guide them to make good choices when they’re not at home.
Consider providing lunches and snacks rather than relying on cafeteria options.
To help cut back on sugars, starches, and other less-than-healthy food items, consider making your child or teen their own lunches and snacks. Cafeteria food at schools has become much more nutritious, but nothing beats a delicious home-cooked lunch.
Limit sugary snacks and drinks that you keep in your fridge or pantry.
Another really useful way to cut back on the overall sugar your child or teen is consuming is to eat clean at home. Limit sodas and juice for special occasions. Get rid of candy and keep low-fat, healthy snacks on hand. Popcorn, celery with peanut butter, fresh fruit, and yogurt are all tasty snacks that are much better than candy or sweets and will aid in building healthy teeth.
Do you have questions about kids’ dental care? Give us a call!
We’re always happy to answer any questions parents have about their child’s or teen’s oral health. You can give our Omaha office a call or fill out this online form with any non-urgent questions you might have for our pediatric dentist.