Your child’s first teeth

Children’s teeth begin forming a lot earlier than most people know – six months before birth. During infancy, as early as four months, the first primary teeth (baby teeth) erupt through the gums, typically the lower central incisors (front teeth), followed closely by the upper central incisors. Although all twenty primary teeth usually appear by age three, the pace and order of their eruption varies.

The initial phase of permanent tooth eruption begins at around age six starting with the lower central incisors and the lower permanent first molars. This initial phase continues until almost age nine when eight incisors (four maxillary and four mandibular) have erupted. There is a pause during this middle mixed dentition phase (twelve baby teeth remaining) until age eleven. At that time it will seem like teeth are falling out every month.

Children have 20 baby teeth while adults have 28 permanent teeth, not counting the third molars (or wisdom teeth).

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Mouth guards

A mouth guard should be a top priority on your child’s list of sports equipment. We custom make and help you fit mouth guards that are specifically made to protect your mouth, lips, tongue, jaw and face. They will stay in your mouth comfortably when you are participating in sporting events and make it easy for you to breathe and speak. They protect a child’s teeth, lips, cheeks and gums from sports-related injuries.

Any mouth guard works better than no mouth guard, but a custom-fitted mouth guard is your child’s best protection against sports-related injuries. A properly fitted mouth guard can help protect your child’s smile and should be used during organized athletics or contact sports where a blow to the face or mouth could occur.

Thumb Sucking

Sucking is a natural reflex and is normal for infants and toddlers to use thumbs, fingers, pacifiers and other objects on which to suck. More than 90% of children younger than age two will suckle in order to feel secure, happy, and at bedtime in order to provide themselves a sense of security at difficult periods. Since thumb sucking is somewhat reflexive, it may occur during and/or induce sleep. In the early stages of your child’s life, thumb sucking is completely natural and shouldn’t cause any alarm within your household.

Thumb sucking that persists beyond the eruption of the permanent teeth (age six) can alter craniofacial growth and lead to orthodontic problems. The intensity, frequency and duration, along with your child’s age, will influence the level of our concern. The doctors at Salt Lake Pediatric Dentistry generally recommend that parents ignore a thumb or pacifier habit for children younger than age three. We are a bit more concerned for those children over age four. We ask parents of these children to monitor their child with regard to the frequency, intensity and duration of the sucking habit. If all three variables are decreasing over time then intervention is not required. Often peer pressure is helpful in getting preschool aged children to stop a habit.

Pacifiers are no substitute for thumb sucking. They can affect the teeth essentially the same way as sucking fingers and thumbs. However, use of the pacifier can be controlled and modified more easily than the thumb or finger habit. If you have concerns about thumb sucking or use of a pacifier, please talk to the doctors at Salt Lake Pediatric Dentistry.

The following are suggestions to help your child get through thumb sucking:

  • Instead of scolding children for thumb sucking, praise them when they are not.
  • Children often suck their thumbs when feeling insecure. We suggest you provide comfort and focus on making your child feel secure.
  • Reward children when they refrain from sucking during difficult periods, such as when they are separated from their parents.
  • Focus on wanting their new teeth to grow in “pretty and straight”.
  • Suggest that if the thumb is in the way, that it is more difficult for the new teeth to come in “pretty and straight”. Ask for your child’s help to make this happen.
  • The doctors at Salt Lake Pediatric Dentistry have several options to help in situations that require intervention. You may want to look at a book on the topic that many parents consider helpful.

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