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Thumb / Finger and Pacifier Sucking Habits

After an infant is born the activities of the mouth quickly become the center of his/her universe! The sucking urge provides pleasure and nourishment and is a normal part of infant development. Because sucking is also comforting, many babies continue to suck long beyond what is nutritionally necessary. Many babies will satisfy these sucking urges with fingers, thumbs or pacifiers.

When choosing a pacifier make sure:

It is designed for safety. It should be large enough to prevent it from being sucked into your baby’s mouth. The pacifier should be constructed in a flexible, but firm non-toxic material. The nipple and mouth guard should not be separate. The mouth guard should also contain ventilating holes.

~NEVER tie the pacifier around your baby’s neck as it can be a strangulation hazard.

~NEVER sweeten it by putting honey or sugar on the nipple. This can cause tooth decay!

These sucking habits are often connected to some other attachment, like fondness for a favorite blanket or toy. Some other reasons children suck their thumb or fingers include: boredom, tiredness, nervousness, worry or stress. Children find it soothing and it helps them cope with these different situations and emotions. To call undue attention to these habits at this early age may do more harm than good.

However, it is important to understand that these habits may become excessive as time goes by. Three factors used to determine if the habit is excessive are:

1.Intensity:  How hard the thumb/finger is being sucked.

2.Frequency:  How often this sucking act occurs.

3.Duration:  How many years the habit persists. If the permanent teeth become affected, there is greater concern.

INTENSITY + FREQUENCY + DURATION = EXCESSIVENESS

It may help to know that most children do out-grow these habits. Many children will stop due to peer pressure, or even a suggestion to stop by their pediatric dentist. If your child continues the habit as the permanent incisors (front teeth) erupt, or has stopped the habit but the overbite remains, an appliance may be placed to both stop the thumb sucking habit and or retrain the tongue.

Children who use pacifiers or suck their thumb over a prolonged period of time are at risk of developing an altered bite.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here at Kids Smiles during your child’s first dental visit

WE ADVOCATE

~Offering an incentive, like a star on a chart for not sucking on pacifier or thumb for short periods of time.

~Offering a larger incentive when a certain number of stars are achieved or when your child stops this behavior for good.

~Providing a warm, supportive environment at home.

~Seeking professional help for any serious emotional problems you many suspect.

WE DO NOT ADVOCATE

~Nagging and scolding.

~Wrapping fingers with bandages.

~Painting a substance on the thumb or pacifier to deter the habit.

~Restricting privileges.

 

Courtesy: Google Images.

 

 

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