Thumbsucking and using a Pacifier

Oct 15 2020

Thumbsucking is a natural reflex for children. Babies feel secure and happy while sucking on thumbs, fingers, pacifiers, or other objects as this may help them to learn and explore about the world around them. Young children may also suck their thumb to soothe themselves and help them fall asleep.

How can My Child’s Teeth be affected by Thumbsucking?

Thumbsucking may cause problems with the proper growth of the mouth and alignment of the teeth, after the permanent teeth have come in. It may also cause changes in the roof of the mouth.

Pacifiers can also affect the teeth the same way as sucking fingers and thumbs, however it is an easier habit to break.

The intensity of the sucking is a factor that determines whether or not dental problems may result. If children rest their thumbs passively in their mouths, they are less likely to have difficulty than those who vigorously suck their thumbs. Some aggressive thumb-suckers may develop problems with their primary (baby) teeth.

When Do Children Stop Sucking Their Thumbs?

Children usually stop sucking by the time permanent front teeth are ready to erupt and this could be between the ages of two and four years. If you notice changes in your child’s primary teeth or are concerned about your child’s thumbsucking, consult your dentist.

How Can I Help My Child Stop Thumbsucking?

  • Praise your child for not sucking the thumb.
  • Focus on correcting the cause of the anxiety and provide comfort to your child. Children often suck their thumbs when feeling insecure or needing comfort. 
  • Your dentist can explain to your child what could happen to their teeth if they do not stop sucking. Your child might trust information from you, your dentist, or other trusted adults differently, so convey a consistent message.

“Thumbsucking and Pacifier Use”, Mouth Healthy. https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/t/thumbsucking

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