• 10 FEB 15
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    Can Pacifiers or Thumb Sucking Hurt My Baby’s Teeth?

    baby and pacifierThe use of pacifiers to soothe tired, cranky babies is rampant. Hospitals issue pacifiers to newborns shortly after birth. Sucking on fingers or pacifiers is healthy and appropriate for infants and very young children, but many parents become concerned if prolonged pacifier or thumb sucking remains a habit as the child becomes older. Parents worry that sucking habits may have a negative effect on their child’s teeth later down the road. In today’s blog Manhasset pediatric dentist Dr. Kimmy reviews the possible consequences of a child’s repetitive and long-term sucking. She takes a closer look at sucking habits in regards to pacifiers, thumb sucking, and bottle and breastfeeding.

    The Risks of Extended Pacifier Use

    Dr. Kimmy points out that pacifier use is harmless in the child’s first few years of life. However, if the child continues to use a pacifier after the baby teeth begin to fall out, pacifier use can cause damage to dental health. The top front teeth may become crooked as they point outward, the bottom teeth may be pushed inward, and the upper and lower jaws can become misaligned. In some cases, the roof of the mouth may shift as one side becomes more compressed than the other side. If your child continues to suck on a pacifier around age four, Kimmy recommends that parents use positive reinforcement to encourage them to find alternative means of soothing themselves. Catch children refraining from pacifier use and praise them for doing so rather than chiding them for mistakenly turning to the pacifier.

    When to Stop Thumb Sucking

    Thumb sucking can also damage dental health if it remains a habit after age four. Frequent thumb sucking can alter the development of the mouth as well as the positioning and alignment of the teeth. It may also affect the shape of the roof of the mouth. However, some children who engage in thumb sucking are more vigorous than others. If a child actively sucks his or best online casino her thumb to the point that he or she produces a popping sound when the thumb is taken out of the mouth, he or she can damage the mouth and teeth. However, children who simply place their thumb in their mouths without any real sucking are less likely to disturb the development of their mouth.

    Bottle Feeding and Breastfeeding Can Promote Cavities

    Another common means to calming a fussy child is through bottle-feeding and breastfeeding. Repeated breastfeeding and bottle-feeding that are used not for any nourishment but instead to placate a child can lead to childhood cavities if the child is given anything other than water. When a child drinks milk or juice, the sugars and carbohydrates from that drink feed oral bacteria. The bacteria thrive upon these sugars and carbohydrates and release an acid byproduct. The acid can eat through the child’s enamel, the top layer of teeth, and eventually cause a cavity. Children can form cavities as early as age two. To avoid cavities in your young child, Dr. Kimmy suggests the following:

    • Clean your baby’s gums and teeth with a damp washcloth twice a day
    • Avoid giving your child a sippy cup or bottle to drink at their discretion or to use as self-calming device. If you cannot avoid it, give them only water.

    About your Manhasset Children’s Dentist

    Dr. Kimmy Soleimani is a board-certified pediatric dentist with years of experience. Being a mom herself, she knows how to calm the nervous child and put her at ease. To schedule a consultation, call us at 516-365-4-KID. Dr. Kimberly Soleimani serves Manhasset, Great Neck, Roslyn, and Port Washington families from our Manhasset dental office. We welcome new patients and are happy to accept most major PPOs.


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