prolonged sucking can affect your child's teeth alignmentMost parents are very diligent about caring for their child’s health including their oral health. Thumb sucking or sucking on a pacifier can be a great way to soothe an infant, but it can also lead to serious issues with your child’s teeth.

When is it safe to encourage thumb sucking or pacifier use?

The American Dental Association (ADA) has stated that is perfectly acceptable to let your child suck their thumb or pacifier typically up to the age of four. After the age of four, prolonged sucking can affect your child’s teeth and developing jaw,  sometimes resulting in permanent teeth  becoming misaligned.

The pressure from sucking can cause the front teeth to jut out, and your child’s bite will not allow for the upper and lower front teeth to touch. These skeletal changes will begin to affect the alignment of the permanent or secondary teeth so you may need to take steps to discourage sucking.

Tips for discouraging sucking.

Most of the time, children will stop this habit on their own. However, if they do not you can use these tips to encourage sucking habits.

  1. Give infants a pacifier because they are easier to take away.
  2. Use a reward system to track your child’s progress.
  3. Encourage your child and offer praise when they make positive progress.
  4. Consult with your child’s dentist for assistance with stopping the habit.

Overall, most kids will outgrow the habit. But if they do not, you can take steps to encourage them to stop.