In the grand scheme of dental issues, pacifiers and thumb sucking are not the end of the world. Most infants use one or the other as a self-soothing tool for when they are anxious, scared, tired, or in need of comfort. However, when parents allow thumb sucking or pacifier use to go on for too long, the health and wellness of the teeth become a concern.

Typically, your child will stop sucking between the ages of 2 and 4. The hope is that your child has outgrown his or her need for thumb sucking or pacifiers before permanent teeth start to grow in.

The effects of sucking on the mouth and teeth

After permanent teeth start to form, sucking may lead to problems with the growth in the mouth and the alignment of the teeth. Changes in the roof of the mouth can occur and require dental or orthodontic work to be needed.

Some of the most common concerns that stem from a prolonged thumb sucking habit in your child:

  • Open Bite: This is where the front top and bottom teeth become directed outward in the mouth.
  • Overbite: This misalignment occurs when the top teeth cover the bottom teeth.
  • Skin Problems: If a child sucks the same finger over and over for years, skin issues can occur that may lead to calluses, infection, ingrown nails, and peeling.

In addition to dental issues, children can exhibit speech impediments and social awkwardness. While not all effects are dental related, your child’s teeth are of the utmost importance to the staff at The Complete Dentistry of Orland Park.

Help your child break his or her habit!

If you become concerned that your child’s thumb sucking habit is going on for too long, there are a few techniques you can do to help her or him break the habit. After all, thumbs cannot be thrown in the trash the way pacifiers can!

Praise your child when they are not sucking. Let them know you like it when his or her thumb is out of his or her mouth so he or she will continue to keep it out.

Focus on correcting the cause of anxiety that may be causing your child to seek self-comfort. Offer other ways of seeking comfort and deter her or him from his or her hands being in the mouth. Try giving your child playdoh to move around or something else that can keep his or her hands busy.

If your child is older, explain to him or her how it can affect his or her teeth and have your child assist you in coming up with a method of stopping the habit.

If these methods do not help, you can always put a bandage on the thumb, put a sock over the hand at night, or even use a bitter taste on the area to deter sucking.

Consult a dentist

At the Complete Dentistry of Orland Park, we are here to help and guide you through best practices when it comes to your dental health. If you are noticing changes in your child’s primary teeth or are concerned with his or her overall dental health, reach out to us today.

While pacifiers and thumb sucking are generally of no concern in infancy and early toddlerhood, we want to make sure you are educated and aware of how to deflect your child from developing a habit that can be harder to break as he or she grows.

For more information on your child’s dental health and wellness, reach out to us today at 877-478-1353.