Sucking is a natural reflex and infants and young children may suck their thumbs or fingers. Most children stop this habit by the time their permanent front teeth are ready to erupt. Thumb sucking that persists beyond the eruption of the permanent teeth can cause problems with growth of the jaw as well as tooth alignment. The intensity with which a child sucks on fingers or thumb will determine whether or not dental problems result.
Pacifiers are no substitute for thumb-sucking. They can affect the teeth essentially the same way as sucking fingers or thumb. If you have concerns about thumb sucking or use of a pacifier, we will be glad to suggest ways to address the habit.
Parents are often concerned about the nocturnal grinding of teeth (bruxism). Often, the first indication is the noise created by the child grinding their teeth during sleep. Or, the parent may notice wear (teeth getting shorter) of the dentition. The good news is that the majority of children who grind their teeth, do not require treatment and usually outgrow it. If you suspect bruxism, discuss this with your pediatrician or pediatric dentist.