Can Thumbsucking & a Pacifier Affect My Child’s Teeth?

Closeup of a blonde baby boy with blue eyes in a carseat sucking on a teal pacifier and holding a green fuzzy blanket

Many babies use pacifiers or thumbsucking to comfort themselves. Although sucking on fingers and a pacifier can help soothe your child, these habits also lead to issues in their developing mouth. To combat potential problems, there are some steps that you and our team at Sunshine Pediatric Dentistry can take to ensure that your child’s adult teeth grow in healthy and strong.

Thumbsucking

Almost 90% of children between two and four years old suck their thumb, whether they developed the habit out of boredom, stress, hunger, or something else. Thumbsucking is OK when your child is young, but will have an adverse effect once your little one’s permanent teeth come in. If your child continues to suck on their thumb, their adult teeth can be pushed around, which may cause side effects like a lisp or overbite.

How to Break the Habit:

There are a few things you can do to help your child stop the habit of thumbsucking. If you notice them sucking their thumb, you can try distracting them with something else or use a physician-approved product to put on their thumbs that doesn’t taste good. You may also consider eliminating sources of stress that lead them to suck their thumb.

Pacifier Sucking

Much like thumbsucking, the use of a pacifier can negatively affect the development of your child’s teeth. Their front teeth may tilt forward while other surrounding teeth become crooked. This can affect their bite and cause long-term dental problems.

How to Avoid Pacifier Teeth:

Wean your child off their pacifier by the age of two. Use ample encouragement and praise to help them leave this habit behind.

Discourage These Oral Habits As They Age

If your baby is developing habits like thumbsucking and pacifier use, there’s no need to worry. These habits can be beneficial during their initial development. However, as they age, work on weaning them off of these habits in order to avoid any permanent oral issues.

Our friendly team is happy to address any other questions about thumbsucking & pacifier use!

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