Did you know that pacifiers and thumb sucking as a child can impact your oral development? Although sucking is a natural reflex in babies and infants, long-term sucking of a thumb or pacifier could cause a child's jaw to grow around whatever it is they have in their mouth. This is often called "pacifier teeth". The result can lead to orthodontic problems like protruding front teeth, an open bite or a cross bite.
From an orthodontic perspective, it would be great if a baby used a pacifier the least amount of time possible. However, we understand that pacifiers can be lifesavers for some parents and there are some positives to using them. If you decide to use pacifiers, we recommend that you choose a brand marked "orthodontist approved" and follow the age suggestions that are on the box. Most credited organizations recommend that children stop pacifier use by age two, or earlier if possible. If you need assistance or ideas to help ending pacifier use, refer to this brochure from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry or reach out to your pediatric dentist.
In a similar sense, thumb sucking also affects oral and jaw development. Long term thumb sucking can lead to an open bite and the need for early orthodontic treatment. However, unlike pacifiers, you obviously cannot remove a thumb from the child. Most kids will stop sucking their thumb on their own, but if they do not it is important to help them end the habit. Again, your pediatric dentist can provide you with options and assistance.
Schedule an Orthodontic Exam
If you have a child who used pacifiers or sucked their thumb, do not worry. Dr. Aimee Skelton is trained in correcting any issues that the habit may have caused. The American Association of Orthodontists suggests that children see an orthodontic specialist at age seven for an exam. Your child may or may not be ready for treatment at that time, but Dr. Skelton can check for development problems like the ones caused by pacifiers and thumb sucking. We will begin treatment at the optimal time for each unique case. Call today to schedule your complimentary exam!