Pacifier Use and Thumbsucking
Sucking is a natural reflex that infants are born with. They may suck on their fingers, thumbs, pacifier or any other object. Sucking gives them security and a feeling of happiness and helps soothe them. Most babies find it relaxing and it may even induce sleep!
Most often, kids stop this habit on their own with some encouragement. Patience is definitely a virtue in this case! However, this habit should be discouraged after 3 years of age as prolonged sucking habits can create bite problems and even crooked teeth.
Many parents wonder what's better: a pacifier or sucking of fingers or thumbs. There really is no difference and they can affect the teeth in basically the same way. HOWEVER, the use of pacifiers can be controlled more so than that of a thumb or finger. It is a much easier task to take away a pacifier from a child than to remove their thumb!
If you are having difficulty helping your child break this habit, you can try some of the following:
Reward them when they aren't sucking. You can use this reward chart to help with encouragement!
If they are sucking for comfort, try to substitute their need for comfort with a hug or a stuffed animal.
If they are feeling anxious or insecure and needing to suck; work on the underlying cause of this anxiety.
Consider bandaging their thumb or putting a sock on it at night to help they not use their thumb or finger.
Make an appointment and have someone from our team explain to them what will happen if they continue sucking.
Your dentist may recommend a mouth appliance to help them kick the habit!
As always, if you have any questions, comments or concerns, please feel free to make an appointment or let us know!