At first, it seemed like a blessing the way that pacifier or finger helped to calm and quiet your child, but now that they’re a toddler, like many parents we see at our Kelowna dental clinic, you’re wondering what’s going to happen to their teeth.
The good news is, you probably won’t have to start shelling out for braces just because your child uses a soother or sucks her thumb. In fact, it’s very common and the likelihood of long-term damage is small, as long as you start tackling it soon.
Why Children Suck Their Thumbs and Fingers
Would you believe most babies begin sucking their thumbs in the womb? Babies are born with the need to suck, and many will do it as soon as they can plunk a finger or thumb in that mouth, if a soother isn’t already in there.
Fingers and pacifiers help soothe infants and that’s why they’re a blessing for many parents. By the time your child is two or even three, that sucking instinct should mostly disappear as they learn other ways to cope with their environment.
The Impact of Pacifier and Finger-Sucking on Teeth
Since most children stop sucking their thumbs or fingers by the time they’re losing their baby teeth, the impact on their mouths is minimal, and at our Kelowna dental centre, we tell parents not to worry.
If she sucks her thumbs after the ‘big’ or permanent teeth, arrive, however, problems can arise with her jaw and teeth.
Buck teeth – Teeth get pushed out of alignment when fingers or a thumb are constantly pressing against them. This pressure on permanent teeth can lead to an open bite and cause what’s known as ‘buck teeth.’
Lisp – When teeth are pushed out of the correct position by finger-sucking, pre-school children can have difficulty forming certain sounds in speech.
How to Help Your Child Stop Sucking Their Thumbs and Fingers
Give them something else to do with their hands, especially at times when they tend to suck their fingers, such as while reading stories or in the car. Fiddling with another small toy they enjoy can be a big help.
Use rewards, even in little ways, with high-fives or hugs to let them know they’re doing a good job and you know how hard it is. Positive reinforcement, rather than nagging, tends to deliver better results.
Whether you’re visiting us for cosmetic or general dentistry, we provide a comfortable experience with results that will last. Contact us to book an appointment today!
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