Does your little one currently suck their thumb or pacifier? As parents, we all know that proper, pediatric dental care is essential when it comes to our little ones overall pediatric dental health. In most cases, children tend to outgrow these habits somewhere between the ages of two and four. If your child is able to wean himself of this comfort-soothing behavior somewhere within this age group, your child’s pediatric dentist will probably assure you that long-term damage is very unlikely. However, depending on how long the habit lasts, pediatric dental health issues can potentially develop.

Why Kids Love Their Pacifiers and Thumbs

Sucking on either a thumb or a pacifier are both forms of self soothing that your child uses when he or she is either tired, upset, stressed, frustrated, confused, or unable to properly express their emotions. If your child is a regular thumb or pacifier sucker, and constantly needs this form of self soothing, its probably best to try tapering off this habit at a younger age in order to promote proper pediatric dental care habits.

If your child continues to suck on his or her thumb or pacifier after they outgrow the toddler stage, this could potentially become a source of concern for you and their pediatric dentist. Contact your pediatric dentist for an overall evaluation of your child’s mouth to look for any signs of damage such as palate changes or shifting teeth.

Say Goodbye to Old Habits

Weaning your little one from their pacifier or thumb-sucking habit can be tough. Often times they can be quite reluctant to give it up. Below are few tips to help you discourage this behavior while looking after your child’s overall pediatric dental health:

  • Positive reinforcement. Instead of scolding your child when you find them sucking on their thumb or pacifier, build confidence by praising them when their not using it.

  • Offer a reward. Consider creating a reward system for giving up the habit. If your child goes a certain amount of time without sucking on their thumb or pacifier, treat them to a special award for being such a “big kid.”

  • Positive intervention. Employ the help of older siblings or a favorite relative that your little one admires. Suggestive role models are great when it comes to encouraging your little one to stop sucking on their thumb or pacifier. Once your child reaches a certain age, he or she will likely try to emulate the encouragement offered to them.