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Baby pacifier use

Are Thumb-Sucking And Pacifier Bad For Kids?

Your baby is thumb-sucking.

He loves his pacifier, behaving well when the object lands on his mouth.

You began to worry that he is sucking too much.

Is thumb-sucking normal?

But the American Dental Association (ADA) assures that your child’s sucking is normal and one of his natural reflexes.

In fact, before he said “hello” to the world, he has been sucking his thumbs or other fingers in your womb.

Through their first year, more than 75 percent of children suck their fingers, waning down in preschool years with only one in five children sucking his fingers at five years old.

The act of sucking gives a child security and happiness.

It also helps them in learning about their world.

Sucking is relaxing for children especially during difficult times like separation from parents, being around strangers, or when in an unfamiliar environment.

Also, sucking helps in inducing sleep.

Should I let my baby use pacifier?

Pacifier use at nap time and bedtime may also reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SID) or the unexplained death of a baby while sleeping. SID is usually associated with brain defects, low birth weight, and respiratory infection.

Is there something wrong with thumb-sucking and pacifier use?

However, despite the security and happiness, it gives children, sucking can pose problems with the proper growth of the mouth and teeth.

It can lead to crooked teeth particularly the front teeth. Due to the pressure from placing the thumb inside the mouth and resting the bottom part of the thumb inside the top teeth, overbite can result along with general bite and spacing problem. The shift of the teeth can misshape the face from the outside and lead to difficulty in eating, speaking and cleaning in severe cases.

Aside from crooked teeth, the possibility of a misaligned jaw exists which can cause discomfort, headaches, jaw pain, and strain around the mouth over time.

Sucking can also cause changes in the roof of the mouth.

By ages two and four, most children stop sucking their thumbs or pacifiers as they begin to spend their time in exploration and building relationships.

Many school-aged children also let go of the habit due to peer pressure. But there are cases when sucking continues after the age of 4. When your child does not stop his habit, it is time to discourage them.

How should I tell my child to stop?

However, ADA advises to break your kid’s habit gradually as excessive pressure to stop can do more harm than good.

To help your child break his sucking habit, provide him alternative comforter when he faced with stressful situations. Since the act of sucking provides security to children, resolve your kid’s anxiety or allow your child to lean on you instead during those times.

Do not scold him for thumb-sucking or using a pacifier, instead explain to him why doing so will not be good for him.

Be patient in dealing with him.

Also, compliment your child on his progress to encourage him to continue breaking the habit.

Get in touch with your dentist and go to routine checkups to detect signs of dental problems early especially if your child is an aggressive thumb sucker or pacifier user.

Your dentist will also be helpful in stopping the habit of your child by prescribing mouth appliance or medication.

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