Habits: Pacifer, Thumb Sucking

Thumb sucking or pacifier use is completely normal for infants and small children. Children usually give up these habits by the age of four. If the habit persists and continues when their permanent teeth start to appear, they may develop crooked teeth and/or adversely affect the way they bite.  It can even affect the growth of their jaw and the bone that supports their teeth.

Suggestions to break the habit:

  • Wait until the time is right (low stress).
  • When your child is old enough to understand, talk to your child about the habit and explain what happens if the habit persists.
  • Use positive reinforcement such as a reward system (small incentives will encourage your child to stick with it).
  • Talk to your pediatric dentist about the habit.  If your child has trouble kicking the habit and permanent teeth are starting to appear, the dentist may recommend a mouth appliance to help deter the habit.