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Your child’s developing smile depends on a variety of things: their diet, oral health habits and even their family tree. Their day-to-day habits can impact their smile if they develop problems because of thumb, finger, pacifier or lip sucking. This sucking is a natural reflex for babies as it helps them feel comfortable and secure and begins before your child is finally born.

As your child grows, prolonged thumb sucking or pacifier use can lead to your child developing “buck teeth” where the front teeth tend to stick out. It can make it difficult for them to close their mouth and lips together, arresting proper speech development. If this effect on their teeth and jaw becomes noticeable, it can also affect their social growth and make them feel shy about speaking.

Sense of Security

Your child’s sucking on their thumb, finger, or pacifier is a common and ordinary way for them to feel secure from the time they are in the womb. It is normal behavior as they grow, and most children do stop on their own between two and four years of age. However, when they don’t stop, this can lead to dental problems (such as protruding front teeth, an open bite, or a crossbite). Their upper front teeth may lean toward the lip or not properly come in at all. It can affect their bite and how their jaws and bones grow, which support their tiny chompers.

Pediatric Observation

Our pediatric dentist can observe your child’s developing smile to keep an eye on how their teeth are erupting and how their jaws are growing. Your child might need help stopping their oral sucking habits, whether from you or our pediatric dental team. When they are old enough to understand, we can explain what can happen to their growing teeth and jaws if your child continues their now unhealthy sucking habit. Your ongoing gentle reminders at home can also help increase their awareness. Sometimes it might be necessary for your child to wear an oral appliance that gets in the way of their habitual sucking patterns.

While normal thumb sucking and pacifier dependence are soothing when your child is an infant, it is a good idea to help them discontinue this habit as they grow to avoid the long-term effects on their growing teeth and jaws. If your child is still in the habit of sucking their thumb finger or pacifier, we welcome you to see our dentist for help.

Our goal is to treat problems early to correct the problem and prevent further issues in your child’s facial development. Guiding the jaw growth helps them better develop their growing smile to avert dental problems by correcting harmful oral habits that can prevent trauma to their front teeth later. Ultimately, you want your child’s teeth to come in straight – not slanted – and their teeth-supporting bone and jaw to be correctly aligned.

Please Call Today!

Our pediatric dentist is happy to keep a watchful eye on your child’s smile development and may recommend intervention when needed. Our dental team will work with your child to understand why they need to give up their sucking habits if they become destructive. We gladly support your efforts to help your child stop sucking their thumb, fingers and pacifier.

If your child is struggling to overcome this bad habit, we welcome you to give us a call today. We offer tips or can schedule a visit where we can meet with your child and check out any problems that could be developing. We are here to help your child have healthy developing teeth and gums for a confident smile!