How Thumb Sucking and Pacifiers Can Damage Kids' Teeth
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, thumb sucking or using pacifiers is a good habit in children under six months old. It satisfies their primal needs for sucking and comfort and can also reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Beyond that, however, continued thumb sucking or the use of pacifiers can have a negative effect on kids’ teeth.
Some of the most common issues associated with these habits include teeth growing in and causing an overbite, crooked teeth and problems with speech intelligibility. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that parents try to wean their baby from thumb sucking or the use of pacifiers between six and 12 months old. Other experts state that children can continue either habit until age two without causing too much damage.
Avoid Baby Bottle Mouth
Baby bottle mouth is another common problem in pediatric dentistry. The term refers to the practice of putting a baby to bed with a bottle once he or she is old enough to hold it independently. This can cause many of the same problems as prolonged thumb sucking or the use of pacifiers. For the sake of your child’s long-term oral health, provide a bottle while he or she is still awake and then rinse the mouth with a damp cloth afterward. This is a precursor to brushing teeth and helps to rid your baby’s mouth of harmful bacteria.
Primary Teeth Are Important
Some parents make the mistake of not looking after the oral health of their young kids as well as older kids because those teeth all fall out eventually. While this is true, the care of primary teeth is just as important as permanent teeth. If baby teeth decay, for example, a dentist will need to remove them and put in a placeholder until your child’s permanent teeth erupt in their place. This can affect the alignment of the teeth as well as the entire jaw.
Teaching your son or daughter to care for their teeth early in life sets the stage for good oral health over a lifetime. Make sure that you are a good example yourself by refraining from eating a lot of sugary foods and allowing your child to see you care for your own teeth frequently. This statistic might sound shocking, but 40 percent of all preschoolers have at least one cavity by age three. The habits you instill early can help your child beat the odds.
Wright Pediatric Dentistry is Here to Help
If you are struggling with getting your child to give up thumb sucking, using a pacifier or have other oral health concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We are here to help your child have a beautiful and healthy smile for a lifetime.