DID YOU KNOW
Kids teeth start forming during pregnancy so it’s important very early in life to lay the foundations for a healthy oral routine. Teeth are not only used for chewing food for easy digestion, but they also guide the growth of facial bones and ensure future adult teeth come through in the correct position and alignment. Baby teeth are also a vital element for children sounding out words as they learn to talk.
All kids are different, their shape, their environment, and their eating habits. So naturally, they will grow teeth at differing times.
Teeth appear in some children as early as 3 months. Usually, the first teeth appear between 6 and 10 months although late sprouting of teeth at around 12 months is not unusual. Baby teeth can arrive in any order, however, the central bottom teeth typically grow out first. All baby teeth will usually be set by the time your child reaches 3 years of age.
The 32 adult teeth replace the baby teeth between the ages of 6 and 20 years. Adult teeth cannot be replaced which is where preventative care and dental visits come into the picture.
SIGNS OF TEETHING
- Crying a lot or seem extra cranky
- Don’t feed as well as usual
- Sucking on objects such as toys, dummies and bibs
- Pulling the ear on the same side as the tooth coming through
There’s debate as to whether these signs are caused by teething. They may just be a normal part of development or a result of minor infections and illnesses.
TIPS TO SOOTHE TEETHING
Tip #1 Anything Cold or From the Freezer May Help
A wet washcloth is ideal as the cold water eases swelling in the gums. Other cool items include refrigerated teething rings, rusks, or chilled vegetables that can be gummed without falling apart to cause a choking hazard
Tip # 2 Numbing Gums: Natural or Pharmacy Finds
Numbing gels which can be purchased at the pharmacy is another solution but caution must be placed on the portion of being used as the sensation can be unpleasant to a small child. A baby safe dosage of Panadol or Nurofen is another alternative
Tip # 3 Help Infants Calm Down and De-Stress
Try soothing your baby with soft music, talking or massage. You can give infants cool, weak chamomile tea which may help them sleep.
THE USE OF A DUMMY OR PACIFIER
Love them or hate them, parents have used dummies/pacifiers/comforters or soothers for centuries
As the names suggest, parents use them to calm and settle babies and sometimes, toddlers too.
Babies are soothed by the action of sucking. As children get older, they tend to find other ways to soothe themselves and the need for sucking decreases.
The longer your baby uses a dummy, the more likely it is to change the way their teeth grow. This can result in a crossbite or overbite where the top and bottom teeth don't meet properly. You may notice this if your child uses their dummy beyond two or three years old. The more damaging effects are usually seen in children who have used a dummy for 4 years or more.
Long-term dummy use may also lead to:
- Incorrect positioning of teeth – Upper teeth may be pushed more forward than normal. This can change the way the teeth meet when the child bites.
- Mouth breathing – Your child may tend to breathe through their mouth rather than their nose. This is often linked to long-term dribbling.
- Speech and language problems – Having a dummy in the mouth may not give children the opportunity to explore the full range of tongue movements to make the full range of speech sounds necessary for well versed and fluent conversation
Usually, you can reverse the effects of thumb-sucking by up to the age of 5-6 years. This is because children most likely will still have their baby teeth.
If children are still sucking after this age, dental problems can arise.
Vigorous finger-sucking ( which is when you hear a popping sound when a child takes their thumb or fingers out of their mouth) or even prolonged sucking can affect the growth of a child’s jaws and alignment of their teeth.
If you’re concerned about your child’s sucking habits, talk to your dentist.