Is it ok for my child to use a pacifier?
Pacifiers or even finger sucking is normal for babies. Not only does it provide security but it is means for them to interact with the world. Most children by the age of two will naturally stop. It is only with prolonged pacifier use or digit sucking that we start to see dental problems.
When should I be concerned my child is using the pacifier or sucking their thumb too much?
Most children will stop these habits on there on. If the habits persists past the age of 2, it may start to effect the shape of their jaw or position of their teeth. If your child is consistently engaging in the habit throughout the day or night after age 2, your pediatric dentist can discuss ways to help break the habit and discuss how it is affecting their development.
How will a pacifier or finger habit effect my child's teeth?
Overuse of a pacifier or finger sucking habit will cause the upper jaw or palate to become narrow. The upper front teeth will start to tip forward. Normally, when i child bites down the upper teeth will overlap the bottom teeth. A prolonged habit will result in what is known as an "open bite". When your child bites together there will be a space between their upper and lower front teeth.
Is there anything to help my child stop the habit?
For those children that are unable to stop the habit on their own, your pediatric dentist can discuss techniques to help break the habit or even recommend a habit appliance with interferes with the habit. While your child may not like it, a pacifier can be taken away. It is best to try and reinforce positivity and explain why they don't need. It should not be made out as punishment that the pacifier is being taken away. A digit habit is much more difficult habit to break. Again, your pediatric dentist can discuss ways to try and eliminate this habit.
Are pacifiers better then thumb/finger habits?
Overuse of the pacifier or finger/thumb habits will have the same results. However, a pacifier habit is generally much easier to break as it can be taken away.
Can my pediatric dentist make something to help my child stop sucking their thumb/fingers?
Yes, a habit appliance can be made to help break the habit. These appliances, however, are intended for older children who understand the harmful results of the habit and want to stop.