Does Thumb Sucking & Using A Pacifier Alter Dental Development

Does Thumb Sucking & Using A Pacifier Alter Dental Development

Jun 17, 2022, 5:57:57 AM Life and Styles

It is common knowledge that all children or babies always love to insert things in their mouths, and such a bad habit can lead to choking hazards and other health risks. However, such habits as sucking thumbs and putting pacifiers in their mouth can also cause dental health challenges.

Though sucking the thumbs and using a pacifier may not cause any immediate harm to a child, the risks of contracting certain dental complications become higher as long as the habit continues.

Effects Of Thumb Sucking And Usage Of Pacifiers In Children

From birth, every child uses the sucking habit to calm themselves. Most mothers use pacifiers, teething toys, and some other products that children can suck on to encourage emotional regulation in their children.

As children continue to grow, most of them begin to exhibit the habit of thumbs sucking. But sadly, sucking the thumbs or usage of pacifiers can cause bad side effects if the habit continues beyond age four. Below are the effects of thumb sucking and the usage of pacifiers in children.


Overbite usually happens when the teeth become directed outward. However, this deficit usually affects the upper front teeth in an overbite arrangement. When your child's mouth is closed, the top teeth cover the bottom teeth instead of the top and bottom teeth touching as they should be.

Overbite malocclusion can change the shape of the face and smile. People with uttermost overbite may require deep orthodontic treatment to amend the deficit.

And in some situations, people with an overbite deficit may require treatment with headgear and other alternative orthodontic appliances since the overlapping teeth can prevent the proper placement of traditional metal braces brackets.

Speech Impediment

Because of the effects that thumb sucking and usage of pacifiers have on the development of the teeth, jaw, and palate, the habit can gradually affect the way a child eats and speaks. Thumbs sucking can cause lisping and other speech impediments, including the child's incapability to pronounce hard consonants and sounds like "D" and "T."

Without good dental treatment, even high-quality speech therapy would not be enough to correct these impediments because the deformed sounds are often caused by the shape of your child's teeth in line with their tongue.

Speech impediments will make effective communication for children more difficult, leading to frustration for the child. They can also experience a high level of anger and feelings of isolation.

Skin Problems

Children who engage in sucking their tongue and inserting pacifiers into their mouth over the years may experience serious skin issues on their favorite thumb. When the skin gets exposed to the mouth's moisture, the skin will become open and less protective against other injuries. In some other situations, the skin may crack or bleed, thereby making the child's hand accessible to infection.

Further, the pressure and moisture of thumbs sucking may warp the thumbnail, which amounts to ingrowth or peeling.

If your child is exhibiting major skin issues due to thumb sucking, you may need to stop the habit by wrapping the affected thumb with a bandage or inserting a medical finger glove over the affected thumb.

Open Bite

Open bites manifest when the top and bottom front teeth become directed outward. This type of deficit means that the front teeth do not touch, even when your child's mouth is completely closed.

An open bite may need an orthodontic amendment in the future or otherwise. If not treated can affect other dental issues that also require orthodontic treatment.

How To Prevent A Child From Getting Addicted To Thumb Sucking And Usage Of A Pacifier

Preventing your child from getting addicted to thumb sucking and usage of pacifiers can be so frustrating as a parent but below are some tips that can help prevent your child from engaging in such habits.

  • Try to acknowledge and praise your child whenever you discover that they haven't sucked their thumbs in a long time. You may start by giving them a gift every minute you discover that they haven't sucked their thumb, then you can extend It to some hours or days till that child eventually drops the habit.
  • Always try to keep their hands busy and provide distractions. It is impossible to keep them distracted 100% of the time, so this will work in correlation with other methods. For example, dancing, writing, sports, playing with toys, and more are all good distraction methods.
  • Always ensure that they wear a mask to prevent dirt particles from entering their mouth. Apart from the protection that wearing a mask serves against airborne diseases, wearing a mask for your child can also prevent them from putting their dirty hands or other objects inside their mouth.
  • Thumb guards are also necessary to prevent these bad habits. Though it can be expensive, it is one of the most effective ways of preventing thumbs sucking in children, and It enables the children to carry out their daily activities without any worries.

How To Correct The Effects Of Thumb Sucking And Usage Of Pacifiers

Many parents have been worried about the effects of thumb sucking and the usage of pacifiers in their children. Below are some steps to take when you begin to take notice of some effects of thumb sucking and usage of the pacifier in your child.

· If you observe any irregular changes in your child's teeth structure, make an appointment with your dentist. Visit Woodview Family Dentistry for a checkup and treatment so that your child's condition does not worsen.

· Stop or prevent your child from further engaging in the habit by using all the prevention tips.

· Make use of aligners for kids to correct and prevent any further misalignment that the effects might cause if you ever take notice of any irregular changes in their teeth.

Published by Samantha Brown

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