Oral Habits

Thumb, Finger and Pacifier (dummy) Habits

Why do children suck on fingers, pacifiers (dummies) and other objects?

This type of sucking is completely normal for babies and young children. It provides security. For young babies, it is a away to make contact and learn about the world. In fact, babies begin to suck their fingers even before they are born.

Are these habits bad for the teeth and jaws?

Most children stop sucking on thumbs, pacifiers or other objects on their own between 2 and 4 years of age. However, some children continue these habits over a longer period of time. In these children, the upper front teeth may tip toward the lip or not come in properly. Frequent or intense habits over a prolonged period of time can affect the way the child’s teeth bite together, as well as the growth of the jaws and bones that support the teeth.

When should I worry about sucking habits?

Your pediatric dentist will carefully watch the way your child’s teeth come into the jaws and the way the jaws develop, keeping the sucking habit in mind at all times. Because persistent habits may cause long term problems, intervention may be recommended for children beyond 3 years of age.

What can I do to stop my child’s habit?

Most children stop sucking habits on their own, but some children need help from their parents and their paediatric dentist. When your child is old enough to understand the possible results of the sucking habit, the paediatric dentist can encourage the child to stop as well as talk about what happens to the teeth and jaws if the child does not stop. This advice coupled with support from parents, helps most children quit, if this approach does not work, your paediatric dentist may recommend ways to change the behaviour, including a mouth appliance and interferes with sucking habit.

Are pacifiers or dummies a safer habit to the teeth than thumbs or fingers?

Thumbs, fingers and pacifiers sucking affect the teeth and jaws in essentially the same way; however, a pacifier habit often is easier to break. When choosing a pacifier or a dummy for your baby, choose one that has an “orthodontic” design. These dummies might cause less change in the tooth and jaw structures.



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