Pacifier, Thumb, and Finger Habits in Coeur d'Alene, ID

Did you know that sucking habits can cause long-term development problems?

Sucking Habits

Sucking on a pacifier, thumb, and finger can be calming for children. This sucking often starts as a natural reflex for newborns and is called non-nutritive sucking. However, a prolonged sucking habit can lead to long-term dental, skeletal, and airway problems. The earlier a sucking habit is stopped, the less chance the habit will cause problems later. Kids Dental recommends that parents begin a plan to break sucking habits starting when their child turns two, and strongly encourage complete cessation of the habit by age three.

Risks of Prolonged Sucking Habit

  • Improper Anterior Dental Alignment: Sucking habits can impact the anterior teeth, flaring upper incisors, and causing overjet and an open bite. This can lead to lip incompetence, increased risk of dental trauma, and aesthetic concerns.
  • Poor Airway Development: The tongue plays a critical role in the development of the roof of the mouth and floor of the nose. The proper width of the floor of the nose develops largely due to the tongue resting on the roof of the mouth. Sucking habits prevent the tongue from resting on the roof of the mouth and often lead to a narrow floor of the nose. This makes breathing less efficient and can lead to sleep disorders.
  • Poor Skeletal Development: Sucking habits can cause a narrow upper dental arch and a lower jaw that fails to advance forward correctly. A narrow upper arch often leads to posterior crossbites which can create a jaw midline shift. This lower jaw shift will lead to asymmetric development of the mandible and may cause temporomandibular joint problems and future aesthetic issues.

Tips on Breaking a Finger or Thumb Habit

  • Do not force or use negative reinforcement
  • Provide positive reinforcement when the child is not sucking their digit.
  • Place a band-aid, sock, or other digit habit breaker such as Mavala Stop as a reminder
  • Set time frame goals with special rewards or prizes for motivation
  • Visit Kids Dental to evaluate the impact of the habit and discuss other tips

Tips on Breaking a Pacifier Habit

  • Positive Reinforcement when not using pacifier
  • Give their pacifier to the “Pacifier Fairy”
  • Set time frame goals with special rewards or prizes for motivation
  • Visit Kids Dental to evaluate the impact of the habit discuss other tips

Interested in an evaluation on the impact of your child’s sucking habit or need of help for your child’s sucking habit? Let Kids Dental know at your next appointment and we would be happy to discuss further guidance and tips!

Is your child in need of an exam or other dental treatment? We can help!