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Hard to believe how much your child has grown and learned this past year! If they haven’t begun a pre-school program yet, this just might be the year!

Some children at this age will begin to lose baby teeth, but don’t worry if a visit from the “Tooth Fairy” doesn’t happen at age 5. Everyone’s timing is a little different. The bottom center teeth are usually the first ones to go!

Your child is most likely doing well at brushing and flossing. It has become a habit and hopefully something they enjoy doing. However, it is still recommended for parents to help awhile longer – usually until age 8 or 9.

Some babies and toddlers develop a finger or thumb sucking habit as a way to calm, self-soothe or even fall asleep. Generally, between the age of 2 and 4 these habits spontaneously stop. But what if they haven’t? Don’t panic. They are not alone. As preschool begins, peer pressure is often enough to break the habit.

There are some things you can do at home to help your child. Notice if the habit only appears at certain times, such as when falling asleep, watching TV or when holding a favorite blanket or stuffed animal. If it is only occurring at these times, it generally means the habit is nearing its end. If it is happening all the time, there are some preliminary steps you can take to help your child break the habit.

First talk to your child about the habit and the reasons to stop. Offer gentle reminders when you notice the habit occurring. Praise, praise, praise – set reminders to praise your child when they go a period of time without thumb sucking. Consider a sticker chart or some other kind of positive reinforcement.

While we are getting closer to a recommended first visit to the orthodontist, it will still be a couple years until that milestone. As always, you, your child and your family dentist remain a strong team in developing a lifetime of good dental habits. Continue with regular checkups and cleanings.