How Pacifiers Affect Your Baby’s Teeth

March 23rd, 2016

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 if you have questions about pacifiers or finger habits.

Thanks for being a valued part of our practice family!

Top image by Flickr user David Goehring used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Kick the Habit of Thumbsucking

February 10th, 2015

THUMBSUCKING IS A HARD HABIT TO BREAK. A survival instinct at birth, the longer someone sucks their thumb, the harder the habit is to stop.

Dr. Ann Marie Gorczyca, Board Certified Orthodontist says, “People think that only children suck their thumb. I can tell you from experience treating the habit, that this is not the case. Over the course of my 25 year career, I have treated plenty of children to stop thumb sucking. I have also treated high school football players, engaged women getting ready to be married, and people over the age of forty. The longer you wait to stop sucking your thumb, the harder the habit is to break.”

Thumb Sucking Should Be Stopped By Age 7

Thumb sucking cessation is best treated at age 7. Thumb sucking with baby teeth has little or no long term effects on permanent tooth position. Psychologists argue that there is a psychological benefit to thumb sucking at a very early age. But after age 7, thumb sucking will create a malocclusion (bad bite) including flared front teeth, spaced upper teeth, pushed in lower teeth, a narrow upper arch, and front tooth openbite. These are serious bite problems.

An Appliance Can Help Stop Thumbsucking

If caught early, thumb sucking can be treated with a upper jaw habit appliance only. This appliance will stop both the thumb sucking habit and allow the open bite to close naturally.

Orthodontic treatment may also be needed to expand the upper arch and align front teeth after thumb sucking. This is usually done between the ages of 7 to 9 during Phase 1 orthodontic treatment.

Some Tips To Stop Thumbsucking At Home

There are things you can try at home to stop thumb sucking.

  1. Place a band aid on the finger as a reminder not to suck the finger.
  2. Put the finger into something which does not taste good like hot sauce, vinegar, or mustard as a taste reminder not to suck the finger.
  3. Put a smelly sock or a glove on the hand as a smell and touch reminder not to suck the finger.

At any age, your orthodontist can help you stop thumb sucking. To find an orthodontist near you visit or visit us at Gorczyca Orthodontics in Antioch, California at Call us at (925) 757-9000 for a complimentary exam.

Stop thumb sucking! Isn’t time to kick the habit?

More Topics
diplomate american board of orthodontics Edward H. Angle Society of Orthodontists advanced education in orthdontics
member american association of orthodontists seattle study club american dental association california dental association
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