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Effect of Thumb Sucking & Pacifiers

Most children find thumbsucking to be a natural reflex. Using the thumbs, fingers or pacifiers is a way to make them feel secure. Children often use this method to soothe themselves to sleep or provide comfort when they're upset. If let go beyond a normal span of time, this practice can cause damage to the child’s teeth, which is why your dentist in Carlsbad wants to delve into this habit.

How Can Thumbsucking Affect My Child's Teeth?


Once permanent teeth come in, thumbsucking can cause problems with the growth of the mouth. It can also cause a misalignment of the teeth. Sometimes thumb sucking will also change the roof of the mouth and its structure.

Pacifiers are essentially the same thing as sucking on thumbs or fingers. Most times, breaking the habit of using a pacifier is easier than thumb sucking.

How hard your child sucks on their thumbs or pacifiers will determine whether dental problems can occur. If a child rests the thumb passively in the mouth, there is less likely a chance that there will be a difficulty. If your child vigorously sucks their fingers or thumbs, they could be looking at problems even with their baby teeth.

How to Break the Habit


Most children will stop thumbsucking between the ages of two and four on their own. This is before any permanent teeth will erupt in the child’s mouth. To help them accomplish this task, there are some steps you can take:

  • Praise the child when they don’t suck their thumb.
  • Have a conversation with the child about why quitting is important.
  • Spend time understanding what anxiety the child is facing and help them find other ways of dealing with it.
  • Ask us about alternative methods to end this habit.

If you are having trouble getting your child to stop, be sure to speak with your dentist in Carlsbad. Not only can we evaluate the teeth to ensure proper development, but they can also explain some other options. Feel free to give us a call at (760) 454-1422 today!

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