Thumb Sucking

Thumb, Finger, and Pacifier Habits

For children older than five years of age, Alexandria Children's Dentistry can assist you in breaking your child from their oral habit. We have developed a sticker calendar that will help motivate your child to break their habit. If your child fills in all six weeks’ worth of stickers, and their habit has been broken, have them call our office to submit their calendar. We will have a surprise waiting for them!

Frequently Asked Questions about Habits

Why do children suck on fingers, pacifiers, or other objects?

This type of sucking is completely normal for babies and young children. It provides security. For young babies, it is a way to make contact with and learn about the world. In fact, babies begin to suck on their fingers or thumbs 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 two and four years of age. However, some children continue these habits over long periods 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 a sucking habit?

Dr. Angela, Dr. Arpi or Dr. Lara will carefully watch the way your child’s teeth erupt and 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 three 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 the help of their parents and their pediatric dentist. When your child is old enough to understand the possible results of a sucking habit, your pediatric dentist can encourage your child to stop, as well as talk about what happens to the teeth and jaws if your child does not stop. This advice, coupled with support from parents, helps most children quit. If this approach does not work, Dr. Angela may recommend ways to change the behavior, including a mouth appliance that interferes with sucking habits.

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

Thumb, finger, and pacifier sucking affect the teeth and jaws in essentially the same way. However, a pacifier habit often is easier to break.