When to Worry About Your Child’s Thumb, Finger or Pacifier Habit

Baby with bright blue eyes sucking on a blue pacifier.

Often infants and toddlers suck their thumbs, fingers, or pacifiers as a way of self-soothing. Eventually, many of them grow out of the habit. However, some of them will continue it into childhood, where it can become problematic to their oral development. Here’s if and when you should be concerned about your child’s thumb, finger, or pacifier habit.

Sucking Habits Can Impact Your Child’s Oral Health

Most children stop sucking their thumbs, fingers, or pacifiers between the ages of two and four without any issues. If they continue the habit beyond four years old, however, they run the risk of oral problems in the future. This is because once they’re four years old, their baby teeth should be fully grown in. These teeth act as space holders for their adult teeth which will begin to emerge in a few years. If a child continues to suck their thumb, finger, or pacifier when their adult teeth come in, they may experience slanting teeth where their front teeth turn towards their lip.

There are other issues that can stem from these habits. It can negatively impact a child’s bite and the development and shape of their jaws. Additionally, children are susceptible to roof narrowing since a child’s mouth is quite malleable as they develop. Tooth decay can also be a problem, especially if a child’s parents dip their pacifiers in sweet treats to help calm them down faster.

What To Do if the Habit Persists

It can be tough for some children to give up their thumb, finger, or pacifier habit. However, once they are past the age of four, it’s important to try to get them to stop. Our experienced staff at Sunshine Pediatric Dentistry can help develop a plan of action for your child to stop the habit or to treat teeth that have been affected by them.

Affordable Pediatric Dentistry in San Antonio, TX

In need of a comfortable, convenient, and comprehensive pediatric dentist in the San Antonio area? We’d love to see your child for their next dental appointment! Contact us to schedule an appointment. Take a look at our first visit and financial pages to learn more about what to expect from and how to pay for your child’s appointment with us.

Are you concerned about thumb sucking, finger sucking or pacifiers?