Your child’s teeth begin forming before they are even born. Most children cut their first teeth (the lower 2 front teeth) between the ages of 6-10 months. Most children have all 20 of their primary teeth by the time they are 3 years old, but the eruption order and timing can vary.
Children’s permanent teeth begin to erupt when they are approximately 6 years old. The first permanent teeth to appear are the first molars and lower front 2 teeth (the central incisors). Adults have 28-32 permanent teeth (depending on how many wisdom teeth develop).
Infants and young children may suck their thumb, fingers, a pacifier, or a variety of other objects. Sucking is a natural reflex that often helps them feel a sense of security and happiness. While it is not a problem when they are younger, sucking habits that continue after a child’s permanent teeth have begun to erupt can lead to problems with proper jaw growth and alignment of teeth (such as crowding and anterior open bite, see photo below). We recommend children stop thumb sucking by the time they are 2-4 years of age.
Sippy cups are utilized as an intermediate training tool between baby bottles and an adult cup. At mealtimes you may fill your child’s sippy cup with liquids other than water (milk, juice, etc.), but throughout the day it should contain water only. Allowing your child to sip on sugary drinks throughout the day can break down their enamel and cause rampant tooth decay.
While some malocclusions (“bad bites”) can be diagnosed and corrected as early as ages 4-6, most orthodontic treatment begins between the ages of 8-12. We recommend children go for their first orthodontic consult around the time they turn 8 years old. While they may still have some of their baby teeth at this point, their hard and soft tissues are very responsive to treatment at this time.
Sealants are a protective coating applied to help “fill in” the deep grooves on children’s back teeth (their permanent molar and premolar teeth). Children often have difficulty keeping these teeth clean due to their limited dexterity and how far back these teeth are in the mouth. In fact, 80% of cavities in children are diagnosed on their molars and premolars. Sealants function to “seal out” food, acid, and decay-causing bacteria in order to help prevent cavities.
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