The Negative Effects of Thumb Sucking and Pacifier Use

The Negative Effects of Thumb Sucking and Pacifier Use
Posted on 02/22/2018

The Negative Effects of Thumb Sucking and Pacifier UseAs your choice for an Indianapolis and Brownsburg dentist, we at Brownsburg Dental Professionals, PC are proud to go above and beyond to give your child the early dental care that he or she deserves. While we’ll do all we can while your child is in our office, we recommend that you keep an eye out for any harmful oral habits that your child engages in during his or her daily life. Though you may not think it, this can include thumb sucking and pacifier use. Thumb sucking and pacifier use may bring comfort to a child, but they can also have negative effects as well. We’d like to take the time to go over how these oral habits can be harmful to your child.

The Negative Effects of Pacifier Use

One of the main downsides of pacifiers is that they can cause tooth decay for your child. It may be surprising to hear, but tooth decay actually doesn’t naturally occur in a child’s mouth; decay is caused because of outside influences. In many situations, a parent puts the pacifier in his or her mouth before giving it to the child, which can introduce decay-causing bacteria. In other instances, a parent may dip the pacifier into a sweet or sugary liquid, which can also cause decay. Additionally, overuse of a pacifier can lead to crooked teeth, bite problems, and changes in jaw alignment. While pacifiers may be comforting, you should wean your child off of them at a young age.

The Negative Effects of Thumb Sucking

Thumb sucking is another habit that can cause oral problems for a child. Children are always developing so when a child engages in thumb sucking, the pressure of the thumb (or other finger) resting against the gums can interfere with the natural jaw growth and tooth eruption. This can cause crooked teeth and bite problems, such as an open bite. An open bite is an orthodontic problem where the upper teeth and lower teeth don’t overlap; instead, there’s a gap between them. This isn’t just a cosmetic issue, but it can make it harder for a child to speak, chew, and retain food. While thumb sucking is completely natural for young children and will typically go away on its own, this isn’t always the case. If thumb sucking persists after about the age of four, it’s important for you to take steps to curb this behavior.

Stopping a Thumb Sucking Habit

Some recommendations from your Brownsburg family dentist for getting a child to break a thumb sucking habit include the following:

  • Talk to Your Child About It – Sometimes, the best method to take is to just be open and honest with your child. Explain why thumb sucking is harmful and why it’s important to try to stop this behavior.
  • Praise and Reward Your Child – Try to focus on being positive instead of being negative. You can praise or even reward him or her when refraining from thumb sucking. This can include buying a new toy or game or allowing for some dessert.
  • Distract the Behavior – If you notice that the behavior is occurring at certain times or situations, try to either avoid those circumstances or keep your child occupied. If your child is distracted or his or her hands are occupied, you can prevent the thumb sucking.

Get in Touch with Your Brownsburg Family Dentist Today!

If you’re having trouble breaking your child’s thumb sucking habit, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with your Brownsburg and Indianapolis dentist. We’re experts when it comes to early dental care and we can help break an unwanted oral habit. If you’d like to schedule a visit with us, feel free to give us a call at (317) 852-9787 or fill out our appointment request form. We hope to see you soon!