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From age 6 to adolescence, dental care is extremely important. These are the teeth that children will have for the rest of their lives — as long as they’re cared for properly.

Here in Part 2 of Smile Milestones, we focus on what to expect as kids leave behind the “baby teeth” stage and progress slowly toward adulthood.

Permanent teeth: “Grownup teeth” start  emerging at around 6 or 7, but some don’t erupt until around 12. Check the Children’s Calendar of Care for details; you can get a free copy at our office.

Solo brushing & flossing: Children need help with brushing until age 6 or 7, when they have the dexterity and maturity to handle it themselves. Generally, children can floss their own teeth at around the same age.

Sealants: Sealants protect your child’s teeth and minimize the chances of serious dental problems in the future. Our dental hygienists paint a thin, plastic coating on the back teeth. It acts as a shield, preventing bacteria and food particles from entering the tiny grooves in the teeth. Sealants are an option once a child’s molars arrive, a process that starts around 6 and concludes around 12.

Athletic mouth guards: Mouth guards are essential for any child who plays sports. They protect against an array of health problems, even concussions. Studies show that custom-fit guards are far more effective than over-the-counter, “boil and bite” guards. For this reason, Future of Dentistry has programs to make customized mouth guards affordable for all children. Ask our staff for details.

Wisdom teeth: Expect wisdom teeth at 17 to 21 years. If left in place, they can lead to infection and inflammation. They can also cause other teeth to shift, causing decay when food debris lodges between teeth. Teens often neglect dental care when they go off to college or move out, so it’s helpful when parents remind them of important oral health issues like this.

(Click here for Part 1 of the “Smile Milestones” series.)

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