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4-6 Years

From ages 4 to 6 your child's mouth is starting to prepare for the next stage of development, adult teeth. It is important to understand what is happening.


From age 4 and up until around age 6, it may seem as though not much is happening with your child’s teeth. Their baby teeth have all come in, they’re eating exclusively solid food and have begun attending school.

In fact, a great deal is happening from a dental perspective — but it's mostly “behind the scenes,” where their baby teeth and jaw are preparing to make room for permanent, or adult teeth.

During this period, be sure to continue supporting your child’s oral and dental health with great daily self-care and proper eating habits, as well as twice-yearly trips to the dentist for care, assessment and cleaning.

Making Space for Adult Teeth

Around age 4, children’s jaws and facial bones are undergoing significant growth and development. Specifically, space is being created between their baby teeth, space they’ll need for their much bigger adult teeth that will soon begin coming in.

For about 2 years, these spaces will be developing even as there are no obvious changes to the teeth they have.

Then, by the time your little one reaches grade 1, or around age 6, their baby teeth will begin to fall out. They will experience a slow weakening at the root level, and for some time before each tooth actually detaches, it will be become increasingly loose.


How to Deal with Loose Teeth

Confronted with a loose tooth as children, many of us enjoyed the exciting experience of tying one end of a string around a doorknob and the other end around said wobbly tooth—and then loudly slamming the door. This is best avoided with your own kids.

It's okay for children to gently wiggle loose primary teeth, but encourage them not to push at or pull a tooth with force to make it fall out more quickly.

Letting this process follow its natural, if not speedy, course will ensure your children’s gums stay as healthy as possible, which will increase the chances that their adult teeth will come in straight and remain strong. Much less bleeding will also occur as each tooth falls out if it’s not forced.


Care

At Home

So, how best to care for those baby teeth as they move apart to make way for adult teeth, and then begin to fall out?

  • Continue strengthening your children’s daily brushing routine, which should ideally happen after each meal and before bed.
  • Work towards helping them, by age 5 or 6, to brush their own teeth, at least twice daily, for at least 2 minutes, with supervision.
  • Flossing! Ideally, you’ve been flossing your child’s teeth since they’ve had 2 or more teeth touching one another, but if you haven’t, now is a great time to start. Begin by flossing their teeth for them, but encourage them to try doing it themselves—supervised, of course, to make sure they’re doing a thorough job — as their motor skills develop. Some won’t have the dexterity needed to effectively floss their own teeth until age 9 or 10; in which case, keep flossing for them as they continue practicing brushing themselves.
  • If your child is still sucking their thumb or using a pacifier when their permanent teeth begin coming in around age 6, talk to your dentist. Such behaviours at this stage in your child’s dental development can cause problems with bite, tooth alignment and proper jaw growth—which can cause long-term problems fixable only through orthodontic treatment.

At School

During this period, your child will be doing a lot of their daily eating and snacking at school. To help them maintain the great eating habits you’ve been helping them develop, be sure to pack nutritious, dental health-friendly lunchboxes for them.

And don’t be afraid to talk to their teachers about how they can maintain their oral hygiene practices, such as brushing after each meal, while they’re at school, too.

And be sure to get your child to the dentist every 6 months for a check-up and cleaning!


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