Baby teeth start to erupt through the gums between four and nine months of age. Ten upper and ten lower for a total of twenty.

This first set of teeth helps your child eat, speak, and help the adult teeth come in straight. Even tiny teeth must be cleaned. Infants can get cavities just like older children and adults. Following all feedings, you should clean your baby’s mouth and teeth. If the teeth are not large enough for an infant toothbrush, then simply use a piece of gauze or a wet facecloth to wipe teeth and gums. This prepares babies early for what should become a lifelong habit.

Baby’s first visit to the dentist can occur when the first teeth appear. The early visit can help detect any differences from normal growth patterns.

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Pacifiers and Thumbsucking: What You Should Know

When thumb sucking and pacifier use continues for a long period of time, dental problems can arise. The habits can effect proper growth of the mouth and jaws, alter the alignment of the teeth and create changes in the shape of the roof of the mouth. Kids who are aggressive thumb or pacifier suckers can cause issues with their baby teeth too. If not treated early, it can lead to skeletal changes in jaw alignment, an open bite of the front teeth and excessive overjet, commonly referred to as an overbite. In severe cases, in addition to orthodontic treatment, kids may eventually need jaw surgery as well to correct the issues.

Tips for Weaning Kids off the Pacifier or Thumb Sucking

A few tips for how to stop kids from sucking their thumb and for weaning them off the pacifier:

  • Never yell at your child for using their pacifier or sucking their thumb. Instead, lavish them with praise when they refrain.
  • If stopping cold turkey doesn’t work (this is mostly true for pacifiers), try a gradual approach. Start by taking away the binky during happy times, like when the child is playing at home, then start to eliminate it while outside, eventually just keep the binky in the crib before phasing it out completely.
  • Most kids default to sucking their thumb or pacifier when they’re anxious and need comfort. Find out what’s bothering them and try to remedy the situation. Teaching them a few self-soothing techniques can go a long way as well.
  • If they need a pacifier to fall asleep or tend to suck their thumb before bed when they’re tired, try to implement a different bedtime routine that includes things they find calming like reading a bedtime story or taking a bath.
  • Who doesn’t love prizes? When your child goes for a set length of time without sucking their thumb or using a pacifier, give them a reward like letting them choose the next family activity or taking them on a trip to the movies.
  • Show your child the thumb of the hand they suck on vs. the other hand. The thumbsucking thumb is always sparkling clean. Show them the difference and explain that all the germs are going in their mouth and body.

While thumb sucking and pacifier use are normal and soothing for babies, when the behavior continues past the first few years, it can be detrimental the development of the teeth and jaws. If you’re having trouble helping your child break the habits, schedule an appointment with us today. We can teach you ways to stop thumb sucking and get rid of the binky and make sure your child’s teeth and jaw development are on track

 

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