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Pacifiers are used as a soothing tool in infants and very young children. The habit of sucking is a normal, natural behavior for babies. This is how they receive all of their nutrition in the first months of life. Some babies will even begin sucking on their fingers or thumb inside the womb. Babies will also suck for other reasons. It is a soothing

Pacifier Use Marielaina Perrone DDS

Be Smart About Pacifier Use!

behavior that can help them relax and sometimes even put them to sleep. It can relieve anxiety and make them feel secure and happy. They are especially useful during the first six months of life.

Studies have also shown a benefit from pacifier use in development of jaw muscles as well as decreasing risk of sudden infant death syndrome. Pacifier use is generally safe and effective in its job for the first two years of life but problems can arise with continued pacifier use after age 2.

Dangers Of Continued Pacifier Use

Research has shown that pacifier use before the age of 2 is natural and healthy for a baby. After the age of 2 problems can arise that can endanger the child’s oral health going forward. Some of the dangers associated with continued pacifier use include:

-Increased risk of middle ear infections. Researchers theorized it may have something to do with the change in pressure equilibrium inside the ear caused by the constant sucking.

-Improper growth or development of the mouth.

Misalignment of Teeth. These issues might include displaced teeth, overbites, cross bites, and open bites.

-Increased Risk of Tooth Decay. Kids who use a pacifier longer, also tend to drink from a bottle longer. All this sucking combined with liquids applied directly to the teeth can cause tooth decay and badly formed teeth.

Pacifier Use Marielaina Perrone DDS-Development of a Thumb Sucking Habit. This will accelerate and make any issues even more pronounced.

-Germ ingestion is increased throughout life with long term use of pacifiers. Research has shown that children who use pacifiers after infant stages are more likely to pick up and put items in their mouths.

-Sleep disruption. They have a problem because they grow used to having the pacifier in their mouth while sleeping, and can’t sleep without it. This issue isn’t limited to pacifier users. It’s also true of kids who suck their thumb past infancy. Older thumb suckers often mimic the health issues of pacifier users.

Correct Pacifier Use

Here are a few tips for correct pacifier use:

-Use specially designed orthodontic pacifiers. A good example is the advanced airshield orthodontic pacifier by NUK.

-Keep Pacifiers clean and free of unwanted germs. Always wash a new pacifier prior to use.

-Regularly check your child’s pacifier for cracks or tears. These can become a choking hazard and should be thrown away immediately.

-Do not tie the pacifier around your infants neck.

Following these rules will help ensure your babies pacifier use is safe and healthy.

What Can Be Done To Stop Pacifier Use

While the use of pacifiers before 2 years old is very beneficial it is not always easy to get your child to stop at their 2nd birthday. Some tips to help wean your child off the pacifier include:

1. Take It Away Sooner Than  Later.

To break the pacifier habit taking the pacifier away sooner than later is the most effective strategy. Babies have their own powerful ways of protesting the end of a belovedPediatric Dentistry Marielaina Perrone DDS habit like the pacifier. But taking it away when your child is too young to express his displeasure and negotiate with words can make the transition simpler and easier. Once the pacifier is taken away, do not give it back!!! Tell them it is gone, show it to them in the trash, and then bring it outside to the garbage. Children understand the concept “all gone”.

2. Change The Pacifier’s Taste.

You are probably familiar with the idea of stopping nail-biters by painting their nails with something that tastes unpleasant. A similar method sometimes works to separate kids and their pacifiers.

3. Leave it for the Pacifier Fairy

The pacifier fairy is a first cousin to the tooth fairy. This magical creature may help your child make the transition from being hooked on the pacifier to living pacifier-free. A nice replacement gift from the fairy is also a great idea.

4. Lose it

This may come as a revelation: Next time you’re frantically looking for your child’s precious pacifier, stop. If it’s lost, let it be lost. Alternatively, you can lose it on purpose. Both strategies have worked for desperate moms and dads.

Pacifier Conclusion

For many infants weaning off the pacifier can be very difficult. Some kids are not only physically attached to the pacifier but emotionally attached as well. In those children it is doubly hard to break the habit. As hard as it may be for parent and child, for the child’s health it is a very important reason to break the habit at the right time before any damage can occur.

Thumb sucking is a common habit and natural reflex for children. Sucking on thumbs, fingers, pacifiers or whatever they can get in their mouth may make babies feel secure and happy and help them learn about their world. Thumb sucking can continue as a child grows. They will use the thumb sucking to soothe themselves or help themselves fall asleep.

Is Thumb sucking normal?

Babies have a natural rooting and sucking reflex. This can cause them to put their thumbs or fingers into their mouths. Thumb sucking can sometimes can occur even before birth. Because thumb sucking is soothing to babies, some slowly develop a habit of thumb sucking when they are tired, anxious or simply bored. Some children who are thumb suckers will only suck their thumb, while some will need to hold an object they treasure, like a security blanket or soft stuffed animal.

Does Thumb sucking cause any problems?

Unfortunately thumb sucking can cause problems for children if it continues. Thumb sucking in children younger than 4 is usually not an issue for development. Children who suck their thumbs often or with increased aggressiveness after 4-5 years of age, or those who are still sucking their

effects of thum sucking

Effects of Thumb sucking

thumbs at age 6, are at risk for dental  or speech problems. Once the permanent teeth begin to come in and develop in the mouth, the persistent thumb sucking may cause top teeth to push out and upward, and bottom teeth to push inward. This tooth movement can cause development of a “buck tooth” appearance, an inability to close the front teeth (open bite), damage to the roof of the mouth, and subsequent speech issues. Pacifiers cause similar issues as thumb sucking but the habit of using the pacifier is a far easier habit to break, it can be thrown out, a finger can not. What determines if thumb sucking causes dental problems or not is the intensity and length of time of the thumb sucking. Checking a child’s thumb for damaged skin and calluses can help determine the aggressiveness of the thumb sucking habit. Many children simply rest their thumbs in their mouth. These children are far less likely to develop any long term issues from their version of thumb sucking. On the other hand, an aggressive thumb sucker may develop issues with their primary and permanent teeth (if they are still thumb sucking at that point when they erupt.

Speech problems caused by thumb sucking are related to the misaligned teeth, distorted palate, and tongue thrusting. The tongue does not have the ability to find the correct placement for proper enunciation, and the tongue muscle needs to be retrained. Tongue thrusting is the pushing forward motion of the tongue when swallowing, causing a continued pressure on the teeth even when not thumb sucking.Speech problems can include not being able to properly say S’s, T’s and D’s, lisping, and tongue thrusting when talking.

Children who are thumb suckers may need treatment for the following reason:

-They have not stopped thumb sucking on their own by age 4-5.

-Speech problems are becoming noticeable.

-If they are teased or feel embarrassed by their sucking.

Treatment

At home treatment by children can include:

-Gentle reminders from parents and loved ones. When you notice your child sucking their thumb, gently remind him or her to stop. You should always avoid criticizing or making fun of your child. This will only create stress.

-Positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement goes a long way in this area. Provide small rewards when they are not sucking their thumbs for extended periods of time. A reward could be as simple as an extra trip to the park or a slightly later bedtime.

-Competing response. Parents should give their child encouragement to do a different activity when they feel the urge to suck their thumbs. Could be something like squeezing a pillow.

Parents should also take away the child’s security blanket or stuffed animal during certain times of day. This will limit the amount of sucking. Another option is putting gloves on the hands or placing band aids over the thumb in question. This can help the child by reminding them they should not suck their thumbs.

If home treatment does not work and you are worried or feel frustrated about your child’s thumb sucking you should talk with your child’s dentist or doctor. There may be other treatment options, such as behavioral therapy, special nail polish for thumbnail, thumb devices, or devices for the mouth (habit appliances). A dental habit appliance is only a good idea for children who have not been able to stop thumb sucking on their own and have asked for help. It is usually something non removable, blocking the roof of the mouth to make thumb sucking impossible. It is worn for a few weeks to months and then removed by the dentist.

thumb sucking nail treatment

Thumb sucking nail treatment

Remember that thumb-sucking usually is not a problem until a child starts kindergarten or later. Most children will cease the activity on their own if you give them enough time. Slowly but surely, most children begin to stop thumb sucking on their own around ages 3-6 years old. If you notice changes in your child’s primary teeth, or are concerned about your child’s thumb sucking consult your dentist.