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Thumbsucking and Pacifier Use

By Lindgren Dental Care In Children & Healthy Teeth June 26, 2018

Thumbsucking is a natural reflex for children.  Sucking on thumbs, fingers, pacifiers or other objects may make babies feel secure and happy and help them learn about their world.  Young children may also suck to soothe themselves and help them fall asleep.

How Can Thumbsucking Affect My Child's Teeth?

After permanent teeth come in, sucking may cause problems with the proper growth of the mouth and alignment of the teeth.  It can also cause changes in the roof of the mouth.

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

The intensity of the sucking is a factor that determines whether or not dental problems may result.  If your child rests his or her thumb passively in their mouth, they are less likely to have difficulty than those who vigorously suck their thumbs. Some aggressive thumbsuckers may develop problems with their baby (primary) teeth.

When Do Children Stop Sucking Their Thumbs?

Children usually stop sucking between the ages of two and four years old, or by the time the permanent front teeth are ready to erupt.  If you notice changes in your child's primary teeth, or are concerned about your child's thumbsucking contact Dr. Cheryl Lindgren or Dr. Erik Johnson at Lindgren Dental Care for a free consultation.

How Can I Help My Child Stop Thumbsucking?

  • Praise your child for not sucking
  • Children often suck their thumbs when they feel insecure or need comfort. Focus on correcting the cause of the anxiety and provide comfort to your child.
  • If you have an older child, involve him or her in choosing the method of stopping.
  • Dr. Lindgren or Dr. Johnson can offer encouragement to your child and explain what could happen to their teeth if they do not stop sucking.

If these tips do not work, remind your child of their habit by bandaging the thumb or putting a sock on the hand at night. 

For more information or to schedule an appointment for your child call Lindgren Dental Care at (651) 393-9739 today!  There's no time like the present.  

 

Article courtesy of the American Dental Association

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