For babies and young children, the use of pacifiers and thumb sucking may be routine. When children are upset or frightened, it is a natural reflex to want to suck on a pacifier or suck on their thumb. The act of “sucking” seems to help babies and children feel secure and comforted.

Effects of Thumb Sucking and Pacifiers

After permanent teeth come in, thumb sucking has the potential to cause problems in the mouth since children are continually growing and developing during the time in which sucking is most common. In fact, the alignment of the teeth and possible changes to the roof of the mouth can occur if sucking continues for a prolonged period of time.

What plays a large factor is the intensity of the thumb sucking. This is what really determines if dental problems are likely to result. Children who aggressively or vigorously suck their thumbs are more likely to develop problems with their teeth. On the other hand, children who tend to “passively” suck their thumb in their mouth are less likely to have troubles with their teeth.

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, pacifiers have effects similar to thumb sucking. The long-term use of a pacifier can also affect the shape of the mouth and the alignment of the teeth. Teeth have the potential to become crooked or result in bite problems.

Try to Break the Habit

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, a pacifier is preferred over thumb sucking because the habit can be easier to break at an early age. However, it is recommended that any sucking habit be stopped as soon as possible in order to ensure that dental problems do not result. If you are finding that it is difficult for your child to break his or her habit, it can be helpful to praise your child, find other methods to cope with discomfort, or seek advice from a pediatric dentist that is able to encourage your child to stop.

Contact Us

If your child has persistent thumb sucking or pacifier habits and you are seeking guidance from a pediatric dentist, Dr. Jonathan Konz at Little Smiles Pediatric Dentistry is a wonderful source to speak with! Dr. Konz realized his true passion was working with young children and adolescents and is committed to providing his young patients with the best dental experience. Schedule a consultation with Dr. Konz today so that we may have the pleasure meeting you as soon as possible.