Everybody knows that baby teeth must fall out to let the permanent teeth come in. The whole process takes at least six years.
Usually, children get very excited when they notice that one of their teeth is loose, because the Tooth Fairy will be visiting soon. But not all of them are happy about this rite of passage since sometimes they are afraid of feeling pain, or feel uncomfortable when eating, or may be worried about how they will look or talk without teeth.
Parents can help talking to their children about those fears, and letting them know they will probably will not feel pain. It is recommended to give them soft foods if they complain about discomfort when a tooth is very loose. Most baby teeth fall out on their own.
Children start getting their first baby teeth at the age of 4-7 months, in most cases, and should have all their 20 baby teeth by the age of 3 years.
Baby teeth usually fall out in the order your child got them. This means the two center bottom teeth are often the first to go, followed by the top two center ones. If your child’s baby teeth erupted late, they will probably fall out later.
Some kids lose their first baby teeth at the age of 4 years, while others start when they are 7 years old.
There are children who lose their baby teeth very young, when permanent teeth are not ready to come yet (this can be a consequence of an accident or a dental disease). In these cases, dentists use to put a temporary prothesis in order to keep the space for the permanent tooth, avoiding future teeth spacing problems.
If your child starts losing baby teeth before he/she is 4 years old, we recommend you to visit a dentist to make sure it is not due to a disease.
If your child is 7 years old and did not lose any tooth yet, although it is very common, it is also recommended to ask a dentist for an x-ray study.
When the permanent teeth do come in, you will find out they have ridges and may be slightly yellow. They are also much larger than baby teeth. Do not worry, because your child will grow into them.
Healthy toothbrushing habits become even more important now.
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Related article in Spanish: Cuándo comienzan a caerse los dientes de leche?
Sucking on thumbs, fingers, pacifiers or other objects is a natural reflex for children. It may make babies feel secure and happy and help them learn about their world.
Why it happens
Kids suck their thumbs because it’s comforting and calming. Your preschooler probably practiced this habit while she was still in the womb and perfected it as an infant.
Now she turns to her thumb when she’s tired, scared, bored, sick, or trying to adjust to challenges such as starting daycare or preschool. She may also use her thumb to help her fall asleep at bedtime and to lull herself back to sleep when she wakes up in the middle of the night.
What to do about thumb-sucking
Don’t worry too much. The American Dental Association says most children can safely suck their thumb – without damaging the alignment of their teeth or jaws – until their permanent teeth begin to appear. (Permanent teeth don’t usually start to erupt until around age 6.)
Keep in mind, too, that not all thumb-sucking is equally damaging; experts say it’s the intensity of the sucking and the tongue’s thrust that deforms teeth and makes braces necessary later. Kids who rest their thumbs passively in their mouths are less likely to have dental problems than children who suck aggressively.
Observe your child’s technique. If she sucks vigorously, you may want to begin curbing her habit earlier, say around age 4. If you notice any changes in her mouth or teeth, or if you’re unsure whether your child’s thumb-sucking is causing problems, consult your dentist.
If your child’s thumb becomes red and chapped from sucking, try applying a moisturizer while she’s sleeping. (If you apply it when she’s awake, it may just end up in her mouth.)
Most children stop thumb-sucking on their own between the ages of 2 and 4. Some continue the habit longer, but peer pressure in school is often a very effective deterrent.
Let it go. Punishing your preschooler or nagging her to get her thumb out of her mouth won’t help because she probably doesn’t even realize she’s doing it. Methods such as putting an elastic bandage on her thumb will seem like unjust punishment, especially because she indulges in the habit for comfort and security. Plus, pressuring her to stop may intensify her desire to do it even more.
Try to wait it out. Children usually give up thumb-sucking when they find other ways to calm and comfort themselves. If your child tends to suck her thumb when she’s hungry, for instance, she’ll soon learn to simply open the fridge and look for something to eat or ask you for a snack instead.
Preempt thumb-sucking with other activities. If you can identify the times and places when your preschooler is most likely to suck her thumb – while watching television, for instance – consider distracting her with a substitute activity, such as a rubber ball to squeeze or finger puppets to play with.
If she tends to suck her thumb when she’s tired, you could try letting her nap longer or moving up her bedtime. Or if she turns to her thumb when she’s frustrated, help her put her feelings into words.
The key is to notice when and where sucking occurs and try to divert her attention by offering an alternative. Together, you and your child can find solutions that will – eventually – help her kick the thumb habit.
You can find more interesting tips on our blog http://www.tip4mom.com
También puedes visitar nuestro blog en español https://www.paratimami.com