Which is worse for my baby, a dummy or thumb sucking? - DB Dental

It’s normal for young children to suck on a dummy or their thumb to comfort themselves – babies even suck on their thumbs in the womb. Dummies go in and out of parenting fashion – and it’s not unusual for older relatives to offer ‘helpful’ information about what is best for your baby.

Many parents find dummies or finger sucking helps babies and young children settle on their own. But is either a problem? Is one better than the other?

Is a dummy worse than sucking fingers or thumbs?

Whatever your child is sucking on to self-soothe, it puts some pressure on their developing gums and baby teeth. There is no real difference between fingers or a dummy when they’re very young. The biggest risk of allowing your children to have a dummy or suck their thumb is the formation of an “anterior open bite”, which means the front teeth don’t overlap like they normally would, and can make it very difficult to bite into things.  If the habit is stopped by age 3, the open bite will usually resolve itself however, it is worth seeking advice and assistance from your Dentist.

The main reason a dummy is preferential to a thumb, is that a dummy can be taken away. For example, come Christmas time many parents find that Santa exchanges all the dummies in the house for presents! Thumb sucking is a far more challenging issue as children can always continue sucking on fingers or thumbs.

Dont’s with dummies

Because dummies can easily be dropped, it can be hard to keep them clean. Never suck on your baby’s dummy to clean it – you’re passing on potentially dangerous bacteria to your baby. And never put sweeteners, such as honey, on a dummy to settle a child.

There are many different styles and types of dummies, but always check them as they can degrade with use. And be very cautious if you’re pinning a dummy to your child’s clothing. Make sure the pin can’t come undone and the cord can’t become a strangulation hazard.

Problems with fingers and thumbs

Dummies can be given up or removed or simply forgotten about, but fingers are always available. If you have an anxious child you might find they continue sucking their fingers or thumbs past the preschool years.

This can lead to teasing so it’s best if you check with your doctor if you have concerns about your child’s anxiety levels. Once the anxiety is under control your child won’t be needing the comfort and may simply give up the habit easily.

However, if they don’t, your DB Dentist will be able to keep an eye on any dental issues until your child stops the sucking. Your child needs regular dental checks from the age of two and your DB Dental practitioner will help you keep your child’s teeth in good shape. Book an appointment online now.

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