When it comes to the health of your child, particularly with their dental health, one of the top things that you are concerned about is prevention. As the parent, their dental health is your responsibility. Educating yourself about the harmful effects of dummies and thumb sucking can save your child from painful dental procedures later on and save you from a large bill. Read on to learn more about the effects of these common childhood problems.

Why Do Kids Thumb Suck?

Babies are born with the instinct to suck their thumbs, fingers or a pacifier. They associate it with breastfeeding, which brings them comfort. Although a natural instinct, thumb sucking causes long-term damage to the teeth and mouth if it is allowed to continue for too long. Usually, the urge to thumb suck decreases at 6 months old. However, there are some children who continue to do so to help themselves fall asleep, and when they feel hungry, scared, restless or tired.

What are the Effects of Thumb Sucking?

Once teeth starts to develop and thumb sucking continues, teeth alignment on the child can be disturbed, which can necessitate expensive dental work in the future like orthodontic treatments. There are even some cases where the child develops speech problems. If this habit continues past the age of 5 or 6, underbite, overbite, lisp development, and jawbone positioning issues can develop. Also, the roof of the mouth can become altered or become more sensitive.

Breaking the Thumb Sucking Habit

Talk to your child about the long-term effects of thumb sucking, and let them understand the consequences it can bring to their oral health. Also, look into possible stressors in your child’s life that triggers them to suck their thumb when they are stressed. Distractions can also help, like playing a game, giving a toy or singing a song. If none of these work, talk to your dentist about putting a safe yet unpleasant-tasting medication on their thumbs at night.

Why Do Kids Use Dummies?

Similar to thumb sucking, the use of dummies or pacifiers is a habit that is usually broken early. Still, there are children who continue to use it, resulting in dental issues. Parents should start taking away the pacifier by the time the child is 6 months old, as dental effects can already be seen by 2 years old. The use of pacifiers should be stopped as soon as possible to avoid the harmful effects of its long-term use.

What are the Effects of Dummies?

Although they cause dental effects, dummies are actually beneficial to kids under 6 months. Studies have shown that it reduces the risk for sudden infant death syndrome. Beyond this time, the child has an increased risk for developing ear infections, and problems with tooth alignment and mouth shape, leading to jaw alignment issues. Pacifier teeth usually do not meet together if the mouth is closed.

Breaking the Dummy Habit

To break the pacifier habit in your child, if they are old enough, the first thing that you can do is explain to them why it needs to be stopped. If possible, give them a few days before you tell them that you are taking away their pacifier. This allows them to emotionally prepare for it. Whatever approach you decide to do with your child, you might find them crying and begging to have their dummy. Make sure that you do not cave and stick it out in this phase.

Now that you know the dangers of thumb sucking and dummies, you can now start to break the habits of your child before they experience any significant damage to their teeth and their alignment. If you are having a hard time getting your kid to stop these habits, schedule an appointment with your dentist to get additional help.

Author's Bio: 

James Franklin is a full time author and part-time blogger who like to put his review on various topics.

Ryan Daniel is a professional Dentist in Castle Hills of Lewisville, The Colony, Tx and genuinely care about the health and well being of teeth and gums.