Thumb, Finger and Pacifier Habits
Why do children suck on fingers, pacifiers or other objects?
Sucking is natural for babies and young children as it provides security. It is a way for infants to make contact and learn about the world. Did you know that babies begin to suck on their fingers or thumbs even before they are born? Are these habits bad for the teeth and jaws?
Between 2 and 4 years of age, most children stop sucking on thumbs, pacifiers or other objects. During this time, the teeth and jaws are not affected. However over long periods of repeatedly sucking, your child’s upper front teeth may tip toward the lip or not develop properly. When should I worry about a sucking habit?
We recommend that you encourage your child to stop these habits by three years old. Your dentist will monitor and assess the way your child’s teeth and jaw are developing. What can I do to stop my child's habit?
Most children stop their sucking habits on their own, however some may need to be reminded of the potential risk of this continued habit. When your child is old enough to understand the possible results of continuous sucking, this may encourage them to stop. It is important to give your child support and talk with your dentist should you require more help. Are pacifiers a safer habit for the teeth than thumbs or fingers?
Pacifiers are essentially the same as thumb and finger sucking and will affect the teeth in the same way. However, a pacifier habit is often easier to stop.