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Baby pacifier use

Are Thumb-Sucking And Pacifiers Bad For Kids?

Your baby is thumb-sucking.

They love their pacifier and behave well when the object lands in their mouth.

However, you began to worry that they are sucking too much.

Is thumb-sucking normal?

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

In fact, before they even made an appearance in the world, your child has been sucking their 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 or her fingers at the age of five.

The act of sucking gives a child security and happiness.

It also helps them learn 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 a 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, an 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 teeth-cleaning in severe cases.

Aside from crooked teeth, the possibility of a misaligned jaw exists. This can lead to 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 in 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 their habit, it is time to discourage them.

How should I tell my child to stop?

The 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 their sucking habit, provide them alternative comforter when they are 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 them why doing so will not be good for them.

Be patient in dealing with your little one.

Also, compliment your child on their progress to encourage them to continue breaking the habit and become more conscious of it.

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 a mouth appliance or medication if necessary.

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