Worried About Your Child’s Pacifier Habit?

Like many kids, do your children soothe themselves by sucking on their thumbs, fingers, or pacifiers? In fact, do they refuse to take a nap without a pacifier, or throw tantrums in the car if they get caught without their beloved pacifiers, even for a second? Unfortunately, prolonged thumb-sucking or pacifier use can potentially create problems for children’s oral health. So, if your child is growing more and more dependent on a pacifier, or if you notice your child sucking on his or her thumb more and more frequently, now is a great time to talk to your pediatric dentist about how this could potentially lead to problems, and whether it might be best to start weaning him or her from this self-soothing habit.

Thumb-sucking and Pacifier Use Is Natural, But It Can Lead to Dental Problems

For most kids, the act of thumb-sucking is natural and relatively harmless. It is generally used to ease anxiety, or simply to self-comfort. This is why many kids are particularly likely to suck their thumbs or rely on a pacifier, when they get sleepy, are traveling, or anywhere that is new and potentially uncomfortable.

Between the ages of two and four-years-old is when most kids start to let go of these habits, naturally. However, some may require a bit more of a push to end this habit. Still others might actually need intervention, in order to stop a habit that could potentially cause dental problems.

Help Your Kid Break the Habit

To help your child break this habit, begin by simply explaining why it is important to stop thumb-sucking (or pacifier use). Your pediatric dentist can also speak to your child about the smile benefits of ending thumb-sucking.

You could also offer incentives for good behavior, or simply make more of an effort to comfort your child during stressful situations, helping to lessen the desire for your child to comfort himself or herself. If this doesn’t work, placing a glove or mitten on his or her hand might be able to help.

filed under: Children's Dental Services, Tips/Advice