The Consequences of Pacifiers And Thumb-Sucking Use In Older Children

The Consequences of Pacifiers And Thumb-Sucking Use In Older Children

When we were children, most of sucked our thumb or used a pacifier at some point. For some of us, this ended early, often not long after our first teeth came in. For others, it persisted nearly until we entered kindergarten, and in some cases, we may have held on to that habit for significantly longer. Parents essentially fall into two camps about pacifier use, they either worry too much or not enough, about the long-term repercussions these can have on their child’s dental health.

When Do I Need To Start Worrying About My Child’s Sucking Habit?

In the earliest stages, there’s little to concern yourself with regarding your child’s pacifier or thumb-sucking. This habit is a natural one that helps soothe them in times of stress and provides security when they’re sleepy. If this behavior should go on for an extended period of time, typically thought to be beyond the age of 3, it’s time to get them some help in quitting the habit.

What Are The Side-Effects Of My Child’s Pacifier Or Thumb Habit?

The most problematic side-effect of this habit involves the misalignment of permanent teeth due to the pressure placed on them by your child’s thumb. If you’re considering a pacifier as being a superior option, you’d be right, but only in that they’re typically easier to break as a habit. Additionally, these problems are more prevalent in those who suck theirs aggressively than in those who merely put their thumb in their mouth and leave it there.

How Do I Help Them Stop Their Sucking Habit?

The most important thing to keep in mind is that berating them is in no way helpful. Children need love and support to successfully break this habit; Teasing and chiding them for the behavior can actually make it worse. Instead, try these tips to help them stop:

  • Praise – Noticing when your child isn’t sucking and praising them for it is an excellent step.

  • Security – These habits are exacerbated by anxiety and stress, comfort and security in life are key.

  • Cooperation – Work with older children, and get them involved in quitting their habit.

  • Professional – Sometimes the word of another authority figure helps, involve your dentist.

If you find that these steps aren’t helping your child show improvement, there are other options. These can include putting a sock or bandage over the thumb your child is sucking, or medication that tastes unpleasant available from your pediatrician or dentist. The repercussions your child experiences from sucking can have lasting effects, so helping them quit is essential!

Dr. Pallavi Kavety at Pasadena Children’s Dentistry has been helping families like your face the challenges of growing up in the Pasadena, CA area, and would love to welcome your family into theirs. If you have a child who’s facing challenging dental issues or just need a new dentist who understands the needs of children, pick up the phone and make an appointment today! It’s never too early to set your child on the path to great dental health!