Oral Sucking Habits




We all know a lot of young children like to suck on their fingers, thumbs and pacifiers, can these have adverse affects?


You’re right!  Sucking on thumbs, fingers and pacifiers is very normal and actually provides security for the very young child.  Most children will stop this habit on their own between the ages of 2 and 4.  Our guidelines recommend stopping that habit around 3 years of age to prevent any issues with the developing jaw and the way the teeth are positioned.


What can a parent do to help stop the habit?


Most children do stop on their own, but some do require additional help from their parents or their pediatric dentist. If the patient has a pacifier habit, a lot of times the most successful way for a patient to stop is to simply take the pacifier away. For thumb and finger habits, a technique most used at home is a rewards calendar. As a last resort and only if the patient is interested in stopping but is having a very difficult time, your pediatric dentist may recommend placing an appliance that does not allow the patient to suck on their thumb or finger. If parents are a having difficult time with this, I would recommend they talk to their pediatric dentist on ways they can work together to help stop the habit.