Family Dentist in Surrey & North Delta

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Thumb Sucking, Pacifiers & your Child

Being a parent, though wonderfully rewarding, can also be stressful and full of uncertainties, especially when it’s your first child and everything is new and overwhelming.

Like any other parents, you may be concerned about your child’s thumb sucking or pacifier use. You may be wondering when it should be stopped and what will happen if it isn’t addressed. Aside from bacteria, thumb sucking and pacifier can cause problems with the children’s teeth. However, thumb sucking and pacifier has its pro and cons.

According to the American Dental Association, children start to suck on their thumbs while in the womb of their mother as an innate reflex that makes them feel happy or secure. Since thumb sucking is calming, it may also help induce sleep. For this reason, kids may suck their thumbs in the evening or at other times when they are tired.

Children typically stop thumb sucking around the age of 4. However, if this habit doesn’t stop before the age of 6, it is advisable for parents to intervene and stop them from thumb sucking. It is necessary for parents to encourage their kids to stop thumb sucking before the age of 6 as permanent teeth start to erupt at this stage. With that said, it is advisable to discourage thumbsucking even at an even earlier age to minimize its effect on baby teeth.

Negative effects of thumb sucking on teeth

  • Sucking can impede the proper growth of the teeth, adversely affecting the alignment of teeth.
  • Open bite: It is when both the upper and lower front teeth erupt outwards to an extent that the teeth of the upper and the lower jaw do not touch each other, even when the mouth is closed.

Breaking the habit isn’t always easy since as children won’t always understand the importance of them stopping. Here are a few tips and recommendations for parents who would like their kids to stop thumb sucking and pacifier use:

  • Pacifier use can be restricted to the time when the infant is falling asleep
  • Pacifier can be dipped into vinegar or anything that they don’t like the taste of to deter them from using it
  • Praise children for being able to control thumb sucking or for stopping pacifier use instead of scolding them.

These are just a few of the tips you can explore to help your child outgrow thumbsucking and pacifier use. Don’t hesitate to talk to us, or your dentists, if you’re concerned about your child’s habit. We will help you come up with a strategy to safeguard your child’s healthy dental development!