Sucking Habits


Sucking Habits

Many children have sucking habits, as sucking is a natural reflex.  Infants and young children may suck on thumbs, fingers, pacifiers, and other objects.  It is a relaxing instinct that can provide a sense of security and induce sleep.

Prolonged sucking habits may cause a child to develop dental problems.  Sucking can cause a child’s teeth to become improperly aligned (malocclusion) or push the teeth outward, sometimes malforming the roof (upper palate) of the mouth.

Malocclusion usually corrects itself when the child stops thumb-sucking. But the longer sucking continues, the more likely it is that orthodontic treatment will be needed to correct any resulting dental problems.  Sucking habits usually stop between the ages of two and four.  Pacifiers should not be used after age two, and finger or thumb sucking should be eliminated by age four.

Ask your dentist how to wean your child of this habit.