Thumbs, Fingers, and Pacifiers, Oh My!

Thumbs, Fingers, and Pacifiers, Oh My!

Are pacifiers always bad? No! The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recognizes that thumb-sucking, finger-sucking, and pacifier usage is very normal for infants and young children. The habits provide comfort and security by allowing the young child to interact with the world. In fact, did you know that babies begin to suck their fingers and thumbs before they’re even born?

However, if these habits continue for a long duration of time, you may see long-term problems. Most children stop thumb-sucking, finger-sucking, and pacifier use on their own around 2-4 years old. If the habit is extensive, forceful, frequent, and for a long time period, you will often see your child’s front teeth begin to shift and an “open bite” start to form. This is due to altered jaw growth, bone growth, and thus the interference of proper eruption of your child’s teeth.

So, when is a good time to stop? Pediatric dentists and professionals recommend your child stop the habit around 2 ½ years to 3 years old to prevent negative effects.

Are pacifiers better than thumb or finger sucking?

No, long-term pacifier use will affect your child’s dental and jaw growth in the same way long-term finger or thumb-sucking will. However, as pacifiers are removable, they are often an easier habit to break.

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