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An Exploration Of Childhood Sucking Habits, Thumb vs Pacifier

Everyone is familiar with the use of pacifiers and thumb-sucking as a soothing technique by the youngest of children, but we rarely consider the long term ramifications of using these methods and what the advantages and disadvantages are of each. Research on the topic has produced some surprising results on both sides of the coin, as well as in the area of the pros and cons associated with each. Read on to learn more about the research that was done on this topic and what it has revealed.

Early Age Sucking

Sucking is a natural method a baby can use to help soothe itself, and is generally harmless in the earliest stages regardless of the tool they use. Some parents think that the use of pacifiers has detrimental effects on the child’s tooth development, but this isn’t true in the earliest stages of a child’s life. This doesn’t mean it that there aren’t reasons to prefer the thumb, however. Research has revealed that use of a pacifier can reduce the risk of SIDS, but they also have a tendency to lead to more ear infections. Thumbs are easier for the baby to find on their own meaning less late night crying for lost pacifiers, but they do introduce more germs to the child as a result. Further, sucking the thumb can be a harder habit to break since you can’t take it away like a pacifier.

Once Teething Starts

The time to start phasing out all sucking habits comes at about six months. At this stage the babies first teeth will start coming in and the pressure applied by both pacifiers and thumbs while sucking can begin to interfere with the development of the child’s teeth and jaw. Pressure placed on the teeth can force them forward or back, and this change can persist once the child begins receiving their adult teeth later in life, requiring expensive orthodontic care.

Steps To Mitigate The Use Of Pacifiers

Pacifiers have advantages that make them a strong contender for being the best choice. If you get your child familiar with using a pacifier to calm themselves at bedtime you’ll be able to limit their use of it. Additionally when they get older it will be easier to break them of the habit. Ear infections can be problematic but reducing the risk of SIDS is decidedly important. One other point is that damage to the nail and skin of the thumb can occur if the child continues to suck once they begin teething.

If you have a new child and are looking for further guidance and tips like these, stop in at Smiling Kids Indianapolis and make an appointment with Dr. Swati Singh. It’s never too early to start taking your child to the dentist, so even if they’re just newborn schedule a consultation at their office in Indianapolis, IN today and start your child on the road to great dental health and a positive relationship with dentistry and trips to the dentists office.