How Pacifiers and thumb sucking affect Kids smiles

Do you remember when you were a baby and sucked your thumb? How about your favorite pacifier? You remember that, don’t you? No? Pacifiers and thumb-sucking are natural habits for babies. They usually stop on their own by the age of three or four. However, the pattern can continue past this age. In that case, it might cause problems with the teeth’s alignment and the jaws’ development. This blog post will examine how pacifiers and thumb-sucking affect kids’ smiles. Furthermore, we’ll talk about how Dr. B. and Dr. Sarah at Sycamore Orthodontics in Sycamore can help you (and your little ones). 

The Effects of Pacifiers on Teeth

Babies are often given pacifiers to soothe and help them fall asleep. While pacifiers can be helpful for parents, they can also negatively affect a baby’s developing teeth. When a baby sucks on a pacifier, it creates a vacuum in its mouth, which can cause the upper front teeth to be pushed forward and the lower front teeth to be pushed back. This can result in an overbite when the upper front teeth protrude too far forward over the lower teeth.

Pacifiers can also cause problems with the alignment of the baby’s teeth. If a baby uses a pacifier for too long, it can cause their teeth to shift and become crooked. This can lead to a need for orthodontic treatment later in life.

The Effects of Thumb Sucking on Teeth

Thumb sucking is another natural habit for babies. Like pacifiers, thumb sucking can provide comfort and help babies fall asleep. However, if the practice continues past three or four, it can adversely affect the bones, jaw, and teeth in a child’s developing mouth.

When a child sucks their thumb, it puts pressure on the roof of their mouth and the sides of their teeth. This can cause the upper front teeth to be pushed forward and the lower front teeth to be pushed back, just like with pacifier use. Thumb sucking can also cause the child’s upper jaw to narrow, resulting in teeth crowding and a need for orthodontic treatment later in life.

How Pacifiers and thumb sucking affect Kids smiles

Bad Bites 

We covered a few examples of bad bites above. Now, let’s delve into them in a bit more detail. When you close your mouth, your front teeth should rest beneath your lower teeth. From person to person, this neutral position will vary a little. But it shouldn’t differ too much. If your bite is too far out of alignment, we call this a malocclusion or “bad bite.” Here are some examples of bad bites. 

  • Open bite: when you close your mouth, some of your teeth remain open
  • Crowded teeth: the teeth don’t have enough space between them or don’t have room to erupt
  • Overbite: the top teeth overlap the bottom teeth too much
  • Underbite: when you close your mouth, the lower teeth set in front of the upper teeth 
  • Crossbite: parts of the upper and lower teeth intersect and/or overlap

How to Help Your Child Stop Using a Pacifier or Sucking Their Thumb

If your child is still using a pacifier or sucking their thumb past the age of three or four, it’s crucial to help them break the habit. Here are some tips to help your child stop using a pacifier or sucking their thumb:

  • Encourage your child to use other soothing techniques, like a stuffed animal or blanket, instead of a pacifier or thumb-sucking.
  • Limit the use of the pacifier or thumb sucking to certain times of day, like naptime and bedtime.
  • Praise your child for not using the pacifier or sucking their thumb, and offer rewards for progress.
  • Use a gentle reminder, like a band-aid on the thumb or a note on the pacifier, to help your child remember not to use them.
  • Talk to Dr. B or Dr. Sarah for additional tips and advice on breaking the habit.

What If We Don’t Take Care of It?

Improper bites can distort the bones and skin around the mouth and jaw, resulting in functional deficiencies or damage to the teeth. As teeth and bones move further into unnatural configurations, your child might notice increased pain in your face, head, and neck. Activities that once seemed routine, like brushing and flossing, might become more complicated. 

How Can Sycamore Orthodontics Help?

It’s no secret that orthodontics can improve dental health and hygiene. Orthodontic intervention options from Dr. B and Dr. Sarah will slowly realign your child’s teeth over time, giving them the smile they deserve. But bad bites aren’t just physically uncomfortable. They often cause people psychological distress. Those suffering from malocclusion may express discouragement and a lack of self-confidence. 

How Pacifiers and thumb sucking affect Kids smiles

Schedule Your Child’s Free Consultation

While pacifiers and thumb sucking can be helpful for soothing babies, they can have ill effects on the development of their teeth and jaws if the habit continues past the age of three or four. Suppose your child is still using a pacifier or sucking their thumb. In that case, it’s essential to help them break the habit to prevent future orthodontic problems. Go here to schedule a free consultation. Our team at Sycamore Orthodontics can’t wait to meet your family.