Pacifier VS Thumb-Sucking Habit
|   Oct 29, 2014
Pacifier VS Thumb-Sucking Habit

The sucking of thumbs and pacifiers for infants is a happy, everyday part of life. Since sucking is a natural baby habit, infants derive a sense of relaxation, security and comfort from using both.

The biggest argument that most experts use in preferring pacifiers over thumbs and fingers is that they say that you can simply take away a pacifier if a child develops a prolonged pacifier sucking habit. On the other hand, your child's fingers or thumb are right there as long as she wants to continue to suck on them.

Some experts also argue that 'orthodontic' pacifiers are less likely to cause dental problem. However the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) states that "thumb, finger and pacifier sucking all affect the teeth essentially the same way." Also, using a pacifier is no guarantee that your child won't become a thumb sucker!

According to research from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), most of children will stop using a pacifier and thumb before the age of four years old. Thumb sucking can persist for longer without parental or professional intervention. Children who continue to suck thumbs or pacifiers after the age of four are at a high-risk for developing dental complications.

Such children may develop jaw misalignment, slanting teeth, roof narrowing, tooth decay or mouth sores. Pacifiers and thumbs can guide the developing jaws out of correct alignment. The structures in the mouth are extremely pliable during childhood. Prolonged, repeated exposure to thumb and pacifier sucking actually cause the roof of the mouth to narrow along with jaw misalignment. Also, growing teeth can be caused to slant or protrude by thumb and pacifier sucking, leading to poor aesthetics. In addition, thumb sucking and pacifier use in later childhood increases the need for extensive orthodontic treatments. Another interesting point is that passive sucking is much less harmful than aggressive sucking. Aggressive sucking can be identified with the popping sounds when the child sucks. This may cause sores or ulcers to develop.

Many parents attempt to soothe infants by dipping pacifiers in honey, or some other sugary substance. Oral bacteria feed on sugar and emit harmful acids. The acids attack tooth enamel and can lead to pediatric tooth decay and childhood caries.

To conclude, prolonged pacifier and thumb-sucking habit are detrimental towards your child’s oral & dental health. It is advised that you start weaning your child from either habit by the age of three. In my next, article I shall be giving out a few handy suggestions to parents regarding the habit-breaking program.

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