How Pacifiers and thumb sucking affect Kids smiles

Everybody loves the sight of little kids and babies. Something in our hearts just melts when we see their bulging, round little cheeks. And we feel warm inside when we hear them laugh. Kids are wonderful. Stacy Wolf Orthodontics loves our kid patients. They’re one of our favorite parts of coming to work. We’re a bit partial to kids in the Bayside community. This is why we need to discuss some common habits among little ones — pacifiers and thumb-sucking. This blog will teach you how pacifiers and thumb-sucking affect kids’ smiles. With that knowledge, you’ll know best how to make any changes necessary in your children’s routines. 

Why Kids Like Pacifiers and Thumb-Sucking

It’s not a secret that babies like to suck. They’re used to performing sucking motions in the womb, so they’re already good at it when they’re born. After birth, newborns feed through sucking motions. Whether via a bottle or from mama’s body, sucking is how newborns eat. 

Pacifiers can make decent stand-ins for sucking. They can help relieve stress and pain.  Furthermore, they can help with shorter hospital stays and can even ease discomfort during minor emergency room procedures. Even better, pacifiers effectively reduce sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). 

Weaning your little one off a pacifier won’t necessarily eliminate the craving to suck. Therefore, your child might turn to the next best thing: their thumb. Thumb-sucking comforts; make pain not hurt as bad and helps the dark not seem so scary. It’s a natural, instinctive behavior. But at a certain point, it can affect a kid’s smile. 

How Pacifiers and thumb sucking affect Kids smilesPacifiers, Thumbsucking, and Teeth 

Babies’ bodies grow as they get older. Every part of them — skin, hair, bone, muscle — grows. This is especially evident in their faces. It’s important that the bones in the face and jaw have plenty of room to adjust and set naturally. Most babies’ first teeth first erupt around six months of age. The presence of teeth indicates that it’s time to start transitioning from a bottle to more solid food. 

Extending the habits of thumb-sucking and pacifiers will inhibit the mouth’s ability to grow. The bones of the mouth will grow around any objects in their way. Hence, the roof of your child’s mouth, upper and lower teeth, and lower jaw will grow to accommodate the continued presence of a pacifier or thumb. 

What’s wrong with that? Well…

Bad Bites 

When you close your mouth, your front teeth should rest just beneath your lower teeth. From person to person, this neutral position will vary a little. But it shouldn’t vary too much. If your bite is too far out of alignment, we call this a malocclusion or “bad bite.” Here are some examples of bad bites. 

  • Open bite: when you close your mouth, some of your teeth remain open
  • Crowded teeth: the teeth don’t have enough space between them, or don’t have room to erupt
  • Overbite: the top teeth overlap the bottom teeth too much
  • Underbite: when you close your mouth, the lower teeth sets in front of the upper teeth 
  • Crossbite: parts of the upper and lower teeth intersect and/or overlap

Further Symptoms 

An improperly shaped bite can lead to more problematic issues if left untreated. Malocclusions can make it hard to chew food, creating a choking hazard. Furthermore, asymmetry in the jaw often leads to painful headaches. Those afflicted by malocclusion have difficulty brushing and flossing their teeth. Consequently, they are more likely to develop plaque, cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease.

But the consequences don’t end there. A link exists between malocclusions and sleep apnea. Sleep apnea occurs when a person’s breathing starts and stops. It may manifest as snoring, but it adversely affects a person’s rest. Those with sleep apnea may report feeling tired, even after getting a full 8 hours of sleep. Even worse, malocclusions can have negative psychological effects on adolescents

What Happens If I Don’t Fix It? 

Improper bites can distort the bones and skin around the mouth and jaw, result in functional deficiencies, or damage to the teeth. As teeth and bones move further into unnatural configurations, your child might notice increased pain in your face, head, and neck. Activities that once seemed routine, like brushing and flossing, might become much harder. 

What Can Orthodontics Do for Me? 

It’s no secret that orthodontics can improve dental health and hygiene. Orthodontic intervention options will slowly realign your teeth over time, giving you the smile that you deserve. But bad bites aren’t just physically uncomfortable. They often cause people psychological distress. Those suffering from malocclusion may express discouragement and a lack of self-confidence. 

But did you know that implements like braces can enhance a person’s mental health too? That’s right! Strengthening your smile can strengthen your mental well-being. 

How Pacifiers and thumb sucking affect Kids smilesSold! What Should I Do Next? 

Let the experts at Stacy Wolf Orthodontics in Bayside help cultivate a brand-new smile for your little ones. Go here to schedule a free consult.