919.220.1416

2711 N. Duke Street   Durham, NC 27704
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Duke Oral Health

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DENTAL HABITS – THUMB, FINGER AND PACIFER HABITS

 

Are these habits bad for the teeth and jaws?

Most children stop sucking on thumbs, pacifiers, and other objects on their own normally between the ages of two or three years old, and in most cases no harm is done to their teeth or jaws.  However the children who repeatedly suck on their fingers, pacifier or other objects over a long period of time tend to make their upper front teeth tip outward toward their top lip and in some case make their adult teeth not erupt properly.

 

When should I worry about a sucking habit?

We will carefully watch the way your child’s teeth come in and how the jaws are developing with the sucking habit in mind at all times.  For most children there is no need to worry about the sucking habit until their permanent front teeth are ready to come in, but the habit should be gently discouraged by the age of four. Positive reinforcement and rewarding for not sucking is one of the most successful techniques for habit cessation.

 

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.  When your child is old enough to understand the possible results of the habit, we will begin to encourage your child to stop, as well as talk about what happens to the teeth if your child does not stop.  This advice, coupled with support of their parents, helps most children quit.

 

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

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