6-11 Years of Age
It’s tooth fairy time! At around age six, your child will begin to lose primary teeth in the front, while also gaining permanent teeth in the front and back.Once the teeth start to erupt, you should floss your child’s teeth (flossers work well). Children typically don’t brush along the gum line or by the back teeth, so pay special attention to these problem areas. However, almost 90% of cavities in permanent molars occur in the grooves; consequently, dental sealants are a great way to protect the permanent molars and the other teeth at risk of getting decay. Sealants are a white coating placed over the grooves of the teeth to prevent plaque from causing cavities.
Q: How do sealants protect teeth?
A: A sealant is a plastic material that is usually applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth—premolars and molars. This plastic resin bonds into the depressions and grooves (pits and fissures) of the chewing surfaces of back teeth. The sealant acts as a barrier, protecting enamel from plaque and acids and guarding against disease-causing bacteria.
Thorough brushing and flossing help remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth. However, toothbrush bristles cannot reach all the way into the depressions and grooves to efficiently extract food and plaque. Sealants protect these vulnerable areas by “sealing out” plaque and food.
Until your child is 7-8 years old, you should assist him/her while brushing because children often lack the motor skills to properly do it themselves. Observe your child’s technique, assisting when necessary, until he/she can effectively brush without supervision. Brush your teeth at the same time to help teach your child to brush by mimicking you. Although a regular children’s brush is perfectly fine for cleaning teeth, sometimes a children’s electric brush can make the experience more fun for your child, increasing motivation to brush. Tooth brushing should take place twice a day once in the morning after breakfast and once right before bedtime. Brushing after snacks is ideal, too. At age six and above, brushing should take two minutes each time.
When brushing your teeth and your child’s teeth, place the toothbrush at a 45˚ angle towards the gum-line, using small, circular strokes. Brush the front of the teeth, behind the teeth and on the chewing surfaces. Don’t forget to brush the tongue to remove potential bad breath bacteria and other harmful microorganisms. Take two full minutes to brush properly.
Alternatively, you can teach your child to use a sonic toothbrush. These brushes use sonic waves to kill bacteria while cleaning the teeth. They are especially good for a child who wears braces or for those with teeth prone to decay.
During the ages of 6-11 and older, children become more active with sports, and dental injuries are very common. Ask about mouth guards to protect your child’s teeth during sports.
If your child plays sports or other similar activities, mouth guards are a great way to protect their teeth from potential injury.