The Ins and Outs of Sucking (Thumbs or Pacifiers)

Many parents want to know about the impact of their children sucking on thumbs or pacifiers.  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. This type of sucking is completely normal for babies and young children. It provides security.

Most children stop sucking their thumbs, pacifiers or other objects on their own between 2 and 4 years of age. Some kids maintain the habit long. For these children, the upper front primary 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 come together, as well as the growth of the jaws and bones that support every primary tooth.

A pacifier is no better than a thumb or finger.  Sucking on any of them can affect those precious primary teeth and your child’s jaws in essentially the same way. For some reason, a pacifier habit is often easier to break, though.

Specially trained pediatrics dentist Dr. Porter recommends weaning your child off a pacifier habit at age 2. In the patients he sees at our Raleigh pediatric dentistry practice, prolonged pacifier use past that age is more likely to cause a certain kind of dental malocclusion called a posterior crossbite than sucking on fingers or thumbs.

Most children stop sucking habits on their own, but some children may need a little help from mom and dad and their pediatrics dentist. You may not want to hear this, but with pacifier habits it’s best to quit cold turkey.  You may have to survive a few restless nights but usually after a few days the habit is extinguished.

The dentists and other professional staff at Triangle Pediatric Dentistry stand ready to help you help your child to kick the habit.  Their experience with kid dentistry is unparalleled, so if you need a Raleigh pediatric dentistry practice you can trust or a Wake Forest dentist for children, you’ll get the very best care for your children throughout the baby teeth schedule.