Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Effects of Thumb/Pacifier Sucking

Oh My! You should read this if you have little ones!


Dr. Mario Vilardi was interviewed about the long term effects of kids sucking their thumbs or sucking on a pacifier. He says it is normal for kids to get pleasure and comfort from the sucking reflex. It is not something a parent should be alarmed by or bothered by when the child is an infant.

Key Points of the interview:
1. If the child is sucking vigorously and really using a lot of muscles during the process as opposed to gently making the sucking motion, there is more likely to be a problem down the road.

2. American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry says to stop the thumb sucking/pacifier at 3 years old generally to prevent future teeth problems.

3. Most kids stop on their own by 4 years old.

4. Thumb/pacifier sucking can mold the jaws and change a tooth position, it can make the palate very narrow. The upper teeth will move out a little bit and the lower teeth will tilt in. That creates an open bite where the teeth don't meet.

5. For some kids the damage can be reversed. For others, it is permanent.

6. It is easier to take away a pacifier than to try and get a child to stop sucking his/her thumb. Dentists recommend trying to give a thumb sucker a pacifier instead before 1 year old.
Recommendations for getting a child to stop sucking the thumb:

1. Don't use icky tasting syrup on the thumb.
2. Try giving the child rewards if they can go ? long without sucking their thumb. The time would depend on how often the child normally does this.

As you may know, I am having another baby in September. My first did have a binky (for wayyyy tooo long I might add!) My second wanted nothing to do with those silly things and he never sucked his thumb. Whew! So do I try not to give the new baby a pacifier or do I just see whether he/she takes it? If you have a pacifier child, you know how hard it is to get that thing away from the child once they start using it. It took me a good year with my first child! I don't think my son's teeth were impacted by the binky, but his speech therapist says it may have slowed his vocal development. We took it away at 3 yrs old and it was very difficult!

Did your child suck their thumb or use a pacifier? Did it impact his/her teeth?

-NewsAnchorMom Jen

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