The Long-Term Consequences of Pacifiers and Thumb Sucking on Your Baby's Teeth

The Long-Term Consequences of Pacifiers and Thumb Sucking on Your Baby’s Teeth

Many mothers, who are patients of Dr. Morse, often ask about the potential long-term consequences of pacifier sucking or thumb sucking on their baby’s teeth.  Because sucking is a natural reflex for babies, it’s understandable that pacifiers and thumb sucking serve as such a comfort to many babies and children (and to tired, frustrated parents as well).  

Are pacifiers a problem for your baby?  The brief sucking habits of children during the first few years probably will not pose to be a problem later on in that child’s life.  However, a baby’s frequent and long-term sucking of pacifiers and thumbs can cause dental problems later on in life, as well as in their adult years.  Especially when children continue to suck after their baby teeth start to fall out, this long-term pacifier sucking or thumb sucking can result in the following consequences:

  • The child’s top front teeth slant out.
  • The child’s bottom front teeth tilt in.
  • The child’s upper and lower jaws become misaligned.
  • The roof of the child’s mouth develops narrow from side to side.
  • Increases the child’s probability of developing sleep apnea as an adult.

In order to curb your child’s soothing habit of pacifier sucking or thumb sucking, the American Dental Association (ADA) suggests the following tips:

  • Praise your child for not sucking.
  • Children often suck their thumbs when feeling insecure or needing comfort.  Focus on correcting the cause of the anxiety and provide comfort to your child.
  • For an older child, involve him or her in choosing the method of stopping.
  • Your trusted family dentist, Dr. Morse can offer your child encouragement and explain what could happen to their teeth if they continue to keep sucking.

What if you have exhausted all your efforts and you just cannot stop or modify your baby’s pacifier sucking or thumb sucking behavior? Well, fortunately, there is still hope.  Dr. Morse suggests that you use a NUK® Pacifier.  NUK® pacifiers are specially designed to promote your baby’s healthy oral development.  According to NUK®, the brand offers the latest breakthrough with its “line-up of Advanced Orthodontic Pacifiers that support the natural development of jaws and teeth. This same brand also offers a line-up of developmental teethers that are specially designed to meet the needs of babies at each stage of teething and soothing.”  The NUK® pacifiers are available for purchase at Walmart®, Target®, and Babies “R” Us®.



“Thumbsucking.” The American Dental Association. <>

NUK. All Products: Pacifiers. <>

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