As parents, we know that thumb sucking, along with pacifiers, is a common rite of childhood and is perfectly natural.  It provides your infant or toddler with security and comfort and may even help them fall asleep.  So how do we determine when enough is enough?

On the average, children typically stop thumb sucking or pacifiers between 2 to 4 years old.  This is also about the time that their permanent front teeth begin to come in.  If you’re struggling to pull the pacifier away or stop the thumb sucking with your little one, maybe it’s time to talk to your dentist.

Effects of Thumb Sucking on Teeth

Continued thumb sucking can affect jaw alignment, improper tooth growth and alignment, Palatal narrowing (the roof of the mouth does not grow to full size), bite issues, and irregular swallowing action.

All these issues directly or indirectly affect their dental health, and the longer they continue the worse the situation can become.

Losing the Pacifier

If your toddler begins to talk while holding the pacifier in their mouth, their speech can be directly affected due to the movement of (or restrictions placed on) the tongue.  Sucking on the pacifier, similar to thumb sucking, can affect the formation and growth of the permanent teeth, along with the shape and alignment of the mouth or jaws.

Breaking the habit of either can be stressful.  Offering praise for going without it or even incorporating a star chart can help provide encouragement.  If your child leans towards it when anxious, try avoiding stressful situations. Definitely avoid scolding or punishment as this could worsen the situation.

If you find it hard to break the habit, reach out to your dentist for solutions.  Preventative dental care begins as a toddler and your dentist is always here to help.