When your baby grows older, the last thing you would think twice about is taking away their binky or stopping their thumb sucking or limited their use of sippy cups because of the dental effects. Most parents aren’t even aware of the dangers of these common parts of being a child can bring to their dental health. At Sana Dental, we want to educate our patients who are parents to know when to stop thumb sucking, pacifiers and sippy cups before it’s too late. Learn more about how you can save your child’s dental health from suffering the consequences from our Edmonton dentist.

Why Children Thumb Suck and Use Pacifiers

It’s normal for babies to use pacifiers. This all leads back to breastfeeding and how the sucking action helps them relax as it’s a natural reflex. In most cases, this natural reflex should decrease by the time the baby turns 6 months old. In some children, however, it doesn’t go away. If you take away their pacifier, they might turn to thumb sucking instead. Children tend to want to suck on their pacifier or their thumb when they are feeling stressed, anxious or feel the need to relax. They might also do so when they feel hungry, scared, restless or tired. Most children wean themselves from these habits by the time they reach age 3. If your child is still showing these behaviors past age 5, there might be emotional problems or disorders present. Thumb sucking and pacifier use become problematic when the child continues doing it after their teeth begin coming in. Learn more about the dangers of thumb sucking and pacifier use.

The Effects of Thumb Sucking on Dental Health

If your child sucks their thumbs after their teeth begin coming in, this can lead to future problems. One of the most common effects of thumb sucking on dental health is ruining the alignment of teeth. This can lead to expensive orthodontic treatments down the line. Excessively sucking on thumbs can also lead to speech problems or even developing a callus on the thumb. Not to mention, everywhere you child’s hand goes directly into their mouth. This means they are likely ingesting lots of germs and bacteria which can lead to being sick more often. If you notice that your child keeps sucking their thumb, you need to put your foot down to stop this habit as soon as possible.

If thumb sucking continues past age 5, your child’s teeth might form an overbite or an underbite. They may also form a lisp because the thumb sucking affects the jaw bone position. In addition, the roof of their mouth may become more sensitive or even altered.

One of the top ways to end this habit is by explaining to your child (if they are old enough) why thumb sucking is not good for their health. If they are a bit younger, if you notice they are sucking their thumb, try to distract them with a toy or game. You can also watch out for what triggers them to suck their thumb in the first place. If you can stop these triggers from occurring, you can stop your child from sucking their thumb. Another way to end thumb sucking is by asking your doctor for a bitter medicine to put on their thumb. Don’t just put soap on your child’s thumb. Make sure whatever you put on their thumb to end this habit is safe to ingest.

The Effects of Pacifier Use on Dental Health

Like thumb sucking, pacifier use can lead to similar problems. If your child continues to use a pacifier after their teeth have come in, this can lead to middle ear infections that occur often. Not only is this painful for your child but it can even lead to surgery to prevent more from happening. Speech problems can also develop from long-term pacifier use. We recommend taking the pacifier away as soon as possible. You can either stop your child cold turkey or slowly take it away from them. You may hear some screaming for the first few nights after taking it away, but if you stay strong, they will soon get over it and forget all about their pacifier.

The Effects of Sippy Cups on Dental Health

Another danger to watch out for in children is the use of sippy cups. Sippy cups might not seem like a big deal but they in fact are. Sippy cups are recommended to be used for children 6 months old who are learning to transition to regular cups. It’s recommended that children only use sippy cups for a month to learn how to use a normal cup and they should be taken away. Without taking them away, your child can face different dental problems. The first one is that it can cause improper development of the jawbone. This occurs especially in children who throw their heads back to suck on the cups like bottles.

Sippy cups are also prone to giving children cavities. If you give your child a sugary drink like milk or juice or anything besides water, they will continue to suck on their sippy cup throughout the day, leaving their teeth exposed to harmful sugar. If you choose to give your child a sippy cup to drink from, we recommend only putting water in it. If you are trying to teach your child how to drink from a normal cup, you can use a sippy cup, but try to introduce regular cups at the same time. If you’re worried about spills, opt for a cup with a reusable straw.

Schedule Your Child’s Next Dental Appointment in Edmonton

Now that you know about the dangers behind thumb sucking, pacifiers and sippy cups, it’s time to make your child’s next dental appointment in Edmonton. Bring your child to Sana Dental today for their next dental exam. We will look for any potential problems with their dental health so they can receive treatment as soon as possible. Give us a call or fill out our online form to request an appointment.