Your Child, Pacifiers, and Thumb-Sucking

Thumb sucking is often considered a normal part of the development process, and when it comes to infants, this is 100% accurate. If it continues after a child’s first teeth start to appear, it begins to become a problem. Over a long enough timeline, thumb-sucking and pacifier use can result in the displacement of the front teeth, causing an ‘open bite’ condition that can require costly orthodontic treatment to resolve.

What Is Normal Thumb-Sucking?

A frequent question we hear from parents regarding thumb-sucking and pacifier use is ‘what’s normal?’. This question has been the subject of extensive study and thankfully has a definitive answer as a result. When children have yet to have any teeth erupt, they can benefit from the comforting effects of sucking their thumb or a pacifier. It can serve as an important part of your infant’s sense of security and comfort, making them feel happier and relaxed in situations that may otherwise make them anxious.

When Should My Child Stop Sucking Their Thumb/Using a Pacifier?

The ADA (American Dental Association) determined that it’s essential that children stop sucking their thumb and using pacifiers by the time they reach age four to avoid impacting the development of their jaw and teeth. This period is the same for pacifiers and thumb-sucking alike, as each can produce the same results. For some children breaking the sucking-habit can be difficult and emotionally trying, but there are ways to help make it easier for all involved.

What Are The Risks Of Prolonged Uncontrolled Sucking?

The most common results of uncontrolled sucking are misalignment of the front teeth requiring orthodontic treatment and some malformation of the jaw. Patients who have particularly vigorous sucking habits may also experience complications with palate deformation and other, more serious, medical concerns. The human mouth is a vector for many kinds of bacteria that can lead to infections in the finger or thumb, which can be painful. Some children have even experienced the loss of their fingernails in cases of extreme sucking.

What Can I Do To Aid My Child In Quitting?

If your child is using a pacifier, the removal of the item may be sufficient, though often, this will be replaced with thumb or finger sucking. Breaking thumb or finger-sucking habits can be more difficult. Multiple over-the-counter options have been created to address this ranging from thumb-guards to cremes that make the finger or thumbs taste bad. The best way to determine how to address the sucking concern with your child is to discuss it with your practitioner and work on the concern as a team with your child.

If you have more questions about thumb-sucking or want to get assistance from Dr. Alireza Movassaghi in breaking your child’s habit, call for an appointment at Alvarado Family Dental Center today. Along with their team of dental experts, they’ll work with you to take steps to put an end to thumb and pacifier sucking. Don’t let your child’s oral health future be affected by an uncontrolled habit; call for help today!

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