The Doctors at Kids Dental Experts are specially trained to diagnose and treat the development of bite problems. These can be caused by thumb sucking or prolonged use of a pacifier.
Children suck on things because sucking is one of a baby’s natural reflexes and as infants get older it serves many purposes. It may make them feel secure and happy and helps them learn about their world to suck on their thumbs, fingers, pacifiers or other objects.
After the baby’s primary teeth come in, sucking may cause problems with the proper growth of the mouth and alignment of the teeth. It can also cause changes in the roof of the mouth. Children should stop sucking sooner rather than later to limit the destructive forces placed on the bones and the teeth which may result in severe skeletal and bite problems later in life. Typically by the age of 2 years is a great time to quit.
In order to help your child break the thumb sucking habit, we’ve developed a Thumb Sucking Chart that can be used to reward positive behavior. We recommend utilizing a reward system such as a small gift or stickers to reward your child when they do not suck their thumb. If this does not reduce your child’s thumb sucking habit, we may recommend that you use Mavalastop. This is a sour tasting product that can be put on your child’s thumb to discourage them from sucking.
Pacifiers can also be a factor in developing future bite problems. After the age of 7 months, a child’s sucking needs decrease so we recommend reducing the use of a pacifier by age 2. Research shows that extended use of a pacifier leads to misalignment of the teeth as well as alterations in some oral structures. Pacifier use has also been shown to increase the risk of your child developing an ear infection, as well as very involved orthodontic (braces) including jaw surgery.
Our team will work with you and your child to determine an appropriate approach.