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Q. Why do children suck on fingers, pacifiers or other objects?
A: This type of sucking is completely normal for babies and young children. It provides security. For young babies, it’s 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.

Q. Are these habits bad for the teeth and jaws?
A: Most children stop sucking on thumbs, pacifiers or other objects on their own between two and four years of age. However, some children repeatedly suck on a finger, pacifier or other object over long periods of time. Every person is different on how severely the habit will effect their teeth. Also the duration and intensity of the habit is the determining factor for effect on teeth. As a result, our recommendations for stopping the habit will depend on your child’s teeth.

Q. When should I worry about a sucking habit?
A: We will carefully watch the way your child’s teeth come in and jaws develop, keeping the sucking habit in mind at all times. Habits will be encouraged to stop based on how severe the effect is on your child’s teeth. In some cases, stopping the habit prior to age two is important, but for most children we have more time.

Q. What can I do to stop my child’s habit?
A: Most children stop sucking habits on their own, but some children need the help of their parents and their pediatric dentist. When your child is old enough to understand the possible results on their teeth,
we can show give tips and encouragement to help your child stop. If this approach doesn’t work, there are alternate options we can discuss that will be suitable for your child’s age.

Q. Are pacifiers a safer habit for the teeth than thumbs or fingers?
A: Thumb, finger and pacifier sucking all affect the teeth essentially the same way. However, a pacifier habit is often easier to break.