As a parent, you may be concerned about your child’s thumb sucking and pacifier use. 

Why Do Babies Suck Their Thumbs?

It’s completely natural for a child to want to suck their thumb or a pacifier. It’s an innate inclination for both feeding and exploration. After 6 months of age, sucking tends to decrease. However, some children may continue well into their toddler years, spurred on by hunger, fear, or even as a soothing mechanism when they’re tired.

What are the Effects of Thumb Sucking and Pacifiers?

Extended thumb sucking and pacifier use can lead to a host of longer-term issues, including:

  • Nudging teeth out of place, potentially causing an underbite or overbite
  • Exposure to germs
  • Altering the sensitivity of the roof of the mouth
  • Jaw bone misalignment, causing a lisp

When Should a Child Stop Using a Pacifier and Sucking Their Thumb?

Studies suggest as much as 30% of preschoolers still suck their thumbs. The general rule to put an end to this is between ages 2 and 4. However, be careful to avoid excessive pressure to stop your child from breaking their habit. Doing so can result in more harm than good. Consider using positive reinforcement, such as a rewards system. Curbing this habit at a young age can help your child’s future oral health by stopping teeth misalignment and potential speech problems. 

Should You See a Dentist?

Are you concerned about your child’s thumb sucking or pacifier use? Schedule an appointment today and Dr. Fernandez will help get you and your child find a fun, long-term solution.