Is using a pacifier or thumb sucking harmful to my child’s teeth?
Sucking is a natural reflex for babies. Sucking on a pacifier or their thumb is a way for your child to soothe themselves, helping to make them feel secure and happy. In their early months, neither sucking on their thumb or a pacifier is dangerous to your child’s teeth.
However, if pacifier use or thumb-sucking persists beyond the eruption of permanent teeth, it can interfere with the proper eruption and growth of their teeth. Most children stop the practice on their own between the ages of two and four, but if they don’t you may need to encourage them to stop. There are a number of ways to do this:
- Praise your child whenever they are not sucking their thumb, but don’t scold them when they do suck their thumb. Remember, children suck when they’re feeling anxious or insecure about something.
- Provide comfort to your child whenever you notice them sucking.
- Reward your child when they refrain from sucking during trying or difficult periods.
- Place a bandage on the thumb or fingers of choice.