Thumb-Sucking and Pacifier Use in Aliso Viejo

Many children suck their thumbs or take pacifiers to appease the natural sucking reflex present from birth. This habit is harmless among infants and very young children and usually stops naturally between the ages of 2 and 4. However, children who continue to thumb-suck or take a pacifier beyond this age put themselves at risk for permanent tooth damage. It is important to take steps to stop thumb-sucking and pacifier use in Aliso Viejo before the permanent teeth begin to erupt.

There are several ways you can discourage your child from sucking his or her thumb or taking a pacifier when the time comes. Positive reinforcement is always the most effective and preferred method, praising your child for progress. You may also find it beneficial to redirect your child’s behaviors. For example, a child who sucks on a pacifier to sooth feelings of anxiety may learn to feel similar security from a blanket or stuffed animal instead. Ultimately, the American Dental Association (ADA) also recommends teaching children the permanent effects of long-term sucking, including what could happen to their teeth.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if my child has dental damage from thumb-sucking or pacifier use?

If your child is an aggressive thumb-sucker, you may notice changes to the primary teeth and their position in the mouth. The ADA notes that aggressive thumb-suckers are more likely to suffer damage to the alignment of the teeth, mouth growth, and the roof of the mouth than children who simply rest their thumbs in their mouths. If you are concerned that pacifier use or thumb-sucking may have affected your child’s dental alignment or mouth development, schedule a pediatric dental consultation with Dr. Cima Mazar-Atabaki as soon as possible.

What if my child continues to take a pacifier or thumb-suck despite my attempts to discourage this behavior?

Some children continue to suck their thumbs or use a pacifier despite parental attempts to modify those behaviors. If your child is at risk for oral complications caused by thumb-sucking or pacifier use, Dr. Cima Mazar-Atabaki  can evaluate your child’s mouth and possible an appliance  to help stop the habit.

Are there any treatments available to correct damage caused by chronic thumb-sucking or pacifier use?

The best way to treat oral damage caused by thumb-sucking is to prevent it from happening. However, damage that has already been done may be treated with orthodontic appliances.

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