Child Dental Health: Pacifiers vs Thumb Sucking

24 October 2017 - Dentals Advices

According to several early childhood experts, pacifiers and thumb sucking can become a vital ally in the first two years of a child’s life. In fact, the act of sucking soothes, relaxes and reassures young children.


Since thumb sucking can eventually affect the positioning of the teeth and the shape of the palate, pacifiers are the preferred option. Why? On the one hand, the pressure exerted by the thumb on the palate and the jaw is said to be stronger and more harmful than that of a pacifier. On the other hand, when the time comes, it is much more difficult to stop a child from sucking his or her thumb than to take away a pacifier.


How Old is Too Old?

Generally speaking, the need to suck disappears naturally between the ages of 2 and 3. What’s important is to kick the habit before the adult teeth start to appear. However, no matter the time or age, it must be done gradually. Don’t rush the child, for instance, by all of a sudden tossing the pacifier in the trash can! You can start by leaving the pacifier at home when you go out, or keeping it for naps and night time only.


Here’s a tip: When the time comes to stop for good, place the pacifier in a nice little box and set the box outside. Tell your child that the pacifier fairy came to get it!


A few tips for using a pacifier:


  • Do not put the nipple in your mouth before giving it to your baby to avoid spreading germs.


  • Never dip the nipple in sugar or any other sweet liquids as this could cause cavities.


  • Change the pacifier as soon as it starts showing signs of wear. Change the pacifier every 2 months, regardless of its condition. Choose pacifiers that match your child’s age; manufacturers include this information on the packaging.


  • It has been shown that orthodontic pacifiers prevent long-term dental and skeletal deformation. Their specially designed shape allows the tongue to sit in its natural position and pressure to the wall of the mouth is diminished.


Do you have any questions or concerns? Feel free to ask your dentist for advice!

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Dentist in Ste-Therese