Thumb Sucking, Pacifiers and Your Child’s Teeth

June 27, 2023

Thumb sucking and the use of pacifiers are normal for infants, and may seem harmless or even cute to their parents. But our orthodontist at Ortho Inc. wants parents to know that prolonged sucking can have profound effects on the development of their child’s teeth and jaw. Some of the changes may even occur as early as 18 months of age.

Here are some of the common orthodontic conditions that may arise if a child’s thumb-sucking or pacifier use continues for a prolonged period, according to the American Association of Orthodontists:

  • The child can develop protruding front teeth, commonly called “buck teeth.” This makes it difficult for the child to speak properly and to close their mouth and lips comfortably. Buck teeth are also prone to injury.
  • A crossbite can develop, which occurs when the child’s upper teeth fit inside the lower teeth. If untreated, this can lead to lopsided jaw growth.
  • When the upper and lower front teeth do not overlap, known as an open bite, the child can have trouble swallowing and speaking.

The potential for these conditions developing makes it even more important to consult our orthodontic specialist early, especially if you have noticed prolonged thumb sucking or pacifier use. Early recognition can assist in helping the child break these oral habits, and corrective action can be taken if necessary.

An orthodontist can guide the child’s permanent teeth into their proper position, monitor the growth of the jaws, and lower the risk of injury to the child’s protruded front teeth.

What may seem to many parents like normal behavior for their child could have long-term consequences for their appearance and oral health as they grow toward adulthood. Our orthodontist at Ortho Inc.

urges parents not to wait for thumb sucking and pacifier use to end on their own. If you have questions about this topic or wish to schedule an appointment, please don’t hesitate to contact our office today!