Has your child developed a habit of sucking on his or her thumb or pacifier? Our pediatric dentists can help to break this habit so that your child can enjoy better oral health now and in the future. We welcome you to call us at 410-828-5699 for more information on pacifiers and thumb sucking habits in Timonium, Maryland, and to set up your child’s appointment at Kids First Pediatric Dentistry.

The majority of children will stop using a pacifier and sucking their thumb by about 4 years of age. However, some will continue to suck on pacifiers and fingers far beyond this time. When this occurs, children are at high risk for developing a dental complication. Some of the potential problems that can occur as a result of thumb or pacifier sucking include:

  • Jaw misalignment – Most pacifiers come in shapes and sizes that are unnatural for the mouth to hold. Over time, they can affect the development of the jaws, causing misalignment, which may eventually lead to bad bites or TMJ problems.
  • Tooth decay – Parents often attempt to sooth infants by dipping pacifiers in honey or other sweet substances. Oral bacteria feed on the sugar, and produce acids that lead to tooth decay.
  • Roof narrowing – As with many of the bones in children, the structures of the mouth are extremely pliable. Prolonged exposure to thumbs and pacifiers can cause the roof of the mouth to narrow as if it is molding to the sucking device.
  • Slanting teeth – Thumb and pacifier sucking can cause teeth to slant or protrude.
  • Mouth sores – Children who suck their thumbs or pacifiers aggressively may develop sores or ulcers.

Our dental professionals can help encourage your child to stop sucking on his or her thumb, fingers, or pacifier. There are several options that we may recommend, including:

  • Having our dentists speak with your child about stopping
  • Using an ADA recommended dental appliance to make it difficult for the child to suck their thumb or pacifier
  • Implementing a reward system for when your child does not suck on their thumb or pacifier
  • Wrapping thumbs in soft cloths or mittens

Please remember to be patient and encouraging throughout the entire process of helping your child break his or her thumb or pacifier sucking habit. Positive reinforcement goes a long way in helping your child develop good oral habits.

For more information and to make an appointment with Drs. Bowden, Bowden, and Hernandez, please contact our office today.