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What do thumb-sucking and prolonged use of pacifiers have in common? Did you know both of these habits can cause malocclusion in kids? Commonly known as poor bite, the continued pressure produced by a thumb or pacifier can cause the teeth to move to an abnormal position.

Babies are innately finger-sucking beings. It is fairly common for them to engage in this comforting behavior. But continuous sucking or pacifier use for four to six hours can produce these undesirable effects on teeth:

  • It can push the upper incisors outward while pushing the lower ones inward.
  • It can prevent the front teeth from emerging completely.
  • It can cause the lower molars to bite over the top molars when the mouth is closed.

It is for the child's benefit to quit the sucking habit as soon as possible. Most doctors and dental professionals highly recommend bringing the child for a dental checkup if he or she has a sucking habit until age 4. If the sucking habit persists until 5 to 6 years old, there is a huge probability that the incisors won't develop normally, resulting in a crooked smile. When this happens, an orthodontist can help align the child's teeth.

Some children may not be ready to stop this habit. Without their cooperation, the treatment may not be as effective. If your child still clings to this habit, please consider these simple tips to help them quit:

  • Speak with your child about its nasty effects.
  • Put away items that could reinforce their urge to thumb-suck, like their blanket or toy.
  • Have him or her wear a sock or mitten or place a bitter substance on the thumb to discourage sucking.
  • Most importantly, make use of positive reinforcement; compliment or reward your child even with the smallest of progress.

You can expect some resistance on your child's part, but over time, your child will learn to let go of this habit.

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" How could I give anything but 10 stars when the whole experience was perfect! Dr. Margolis and his staff are polite, friendly and informative. Every appointment from the first consultation through having the braces taken off were run like a well oiled machine... And most importantly, my daughter's teeth look amazing and she is all smiles!! "
- Kathy C.

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Margolis Orthodontics

3 Crane Park Drive, Wilbraham, MA 01095
Tel: (413) 596-9657, Fax: (413) 596-9689
Email: info@margolisorthodontics.com
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