Digit Sucking/Pacifier Use

Sucking is quite normal in babies and young children. Most babies and toddlers suck their thumbs, but they may also suck on their fingers, hands, or items such as pacifiers. Little by little, most children stop on their own. Sucking can become a habit in babies and young children who use it to comfort themselves when they feel hungry, afraid, restless, quiet, sleepy, or bored. The intensity of the sucking habit and the duration are the determining factors on whether a child may develop dental consequences. Changes can be seen in the alignment of teeth, growth of the mouth and also in the roof of the mouth with aggressive sucking. If you notice changes in the alignment of the baby teeth consult your child’s dentist.

Prolonged sucking habits may cause the teeth to become improperly aligned (malocclusion) or push the teeth outward that may cause a child to have speech concerns or improper swallowing This may correct itself when the child stops the sucking habit. But the longer the sucking habit continues, the more likely it is that orthodontic treatment will be needed to correct malocclusions and along with the need for speech evaluations if tongue thrusting and lisping has developed. Early dental visits and conversations with your child’s pediatric dentist will keep you informed on your child’s development.

A baby with blue eyes sucking on his fingers

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