AS CHILDREN GROW OLDER, some parents begin to worry about their child’s thumb sucking or pacifier habits. This is a normal behavior for an infant, but the older a child gets, the more harm it can do to their oral and orthodontic development.
The Pros And Cons Of Pacifiers
Pacifiers have many benefits for infants, including reducing a child’s chance of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), or simply helping them drift off to sleep at night! However, if pacifier use or thumb sucking is prolonged, it can negatively impact your child’s growing teeth and mouth.
Some side effects of prolonged pacifier use and thumbsucking include:
- protrusive upper front teeth,
- tipped back lower front teeth,
- open bite,
- and crossbite.
Psychologists and Orthodontists have found that thumbsucking prior to the eruption of the permanent teeth does not have a long term effect. Psychologically, thumb sucking my have some psychological benefits at a very early age.
There’s More Than One Way To Help Your Child Quit
When is the right time to help your child kick the habit of using a pacifier or sucking their thumb? To allow the body to correct any oral health issues that may have been caused by persistent sucking, the Academy of General Dentistry suggests that an infant quit using a pacifier before the age of 2. If your child enjoys sucking their thumb, it is best to help them stop no later than age 4.
Once permanent incisors start to erupt around age six, finger habits need to stop. Parents can try these tips:
Tips for helping your child quit thumb sucking:
- Praise your child for not sucking her thumb, instead of getting mad when she does.
- Consider rewards when your child abstains for a certain period of time.
- Put a bandage on the thumb to act as a reminder to not suck their thumb.
- Put a smelly sock on the finger hand during sleep. This will encourage your child to put their hand down while they sleep.
Tips to help your baby quit using a pacifier:
- Dip the pacifier in vinegar.
- Pierce or cut the top of the pacifier to decrease the amount of sucking possible.
You may want to have a "Bye Bye Binkie Party!" Make a special party for the binkie and tie it to a special balloon. Let go of the balloon and wave bye bye and the balloon and binkie fly away.
Let’s Visit About Your Questions Or Concerns
If all of these attempts fail, your orthodontist can place a habit appliance during Phase I orthodontic treatment at age 7. Call us at Gorczyca Orthodontics, (925) 757-9000, or find us at clubbraces.com if you have questions about pacifiers or finger habits.