Thumb sucking and Pacifier Use

Many years ago, when my teenagers were infants, I would often worry about them sucking their thumbs or using a pacifier.  What is and is not good for our infants is always evolving.

For example, when my children were infants, it was recommended that they not consume solid foods until a year had passed. Now, we are encouraged to start their consumption of solid foods anywhere from 4-6 months.  Like that example, we were informed by the experts that thumb sucking and pacifier use was not good for babies’ health.  That is no longer the case.  Today, thumb sucking or pacifier use is seen a very natural process for our babies.  Often times, babies begin this habit in the womb.

Babies use thumb sucking and pacifiers to help sooth and calm themselves and keep happy and content, thereby allowing them to learn about their world.

Infants generally discontinue the habit of sucking their thumbs or using a pacifier anywhere from 2-4 years of age, the time when permanent teeth start to erupt and develop.  Their worlds of exploring have opened up, leaving them with less time to sit and observe.

Thumb sucking and pacifier use can impact the development of the mouth and the alignment of the teeth once our infants have developed their permanent teeth.  It may also cause altering to the roof of the mouth.  The more intensity and time that the action occurs, the more likely that there will be possible dental problems in the future.

Pacifiers are thought to be an easier habit to break and impact the teeth much the same as sucking fingers and thumbs.

Some suggestions that may assist in encouraging your child to stop thumb sucking once they have reached a certain age are as follows:

– praise/celebrate your child for not sucking
– provide extra comfort to your child as often times thumb sucking or pacifier use is used to help sooth themselves
– ask your child how they think they could stop the habit and work together
– Our dentists are also very happy to sit down and encourage/educate your child. Please feel free to book a appointment with either Dr. Goel or Dr. Jost.  They will be most happy to discuss any concerns you may have.

All the best!

Braeside Dental Centre


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