Sucking is normal for babies and young children. Thumb sucking habits are usually established by three months of age, with some children needing to “suckle” more than others. However, prolonged use of a pacifier or thumb can create a number of problems, such as an anterior open bite (front teeth do not meet), palatal changes and tongue protrusive posturing (tongue thrusting). Although these conditions can be corrected through orthodontics and/or surgical procedures in the future, early intervention is recommended. Pacifiers should be discontinued by 2-3 years of age. If your child has a thumb sucking habit, begin to encourage discontinuation at 4-6 years of age. Your pediatric dentist will work with you and your child to develop a positive reinforcement reward system to help lessen their dependency. If this approach isn’t successful, a thumb sucking or orthodontic habit appliance may be recommended. These appliances block the thumb or fingers from being inserted into the mouth. Treatment usually lasts 1-2 months with periodic visits to check on the child’s progress.

Category: Infant/Toddler Care