Dr. Shweta Bhatia
Does your child suck their thumb, finger or pacifiers?
Updated: Sep 21, 2019
We all know being a parent isn’t an easy job and to top that if your baby/child sucks their thumbs or pacifier all the time what do you do?
Babies sucking their thumb, finger, or pacifier is a natural phenomenon that gives them a feeling of security. This relaxes, comforts them and even helps them to sleep. As a parent don’t discourage this habit in your baby and stress yourself over this. They will grow out of this habit once they are older.
By the time your child turns 6 or once your child’s adult teeth come into the mouth, the sucking action can affect your child’s oral health and alignment of their permanent teeth. So, if your child continues to suck on their thumb, finger or a pacifier after the age of 4, they might need some help from you to stop this habit. Continuous sucking will alter the shape of the palate and will affect the adult or permanent teeth resulting in crooked teeth/ slanted teeth.
We want to make sure your child’s teeth align properly, so it doesn’t affect their speech or eating habits. Helping your child overcome this habit can prevent unwanted bite problems and saving them from needing braces or oral surgery some years down the line.
By the time most children turn four they discontinue sucking their thumb by themselves. If they are still on a pacifier, you as a parent can make them stop by not giving it to them in the 1st place. You could also apply a bitter paste that is safe for them, or trading it in for a reward.
For those children who are still dependent on their sucking habits, you can remove their thumb or finger from their mouth once they fall asleep. There are also fixed dental appliances that Pediatric Dentists place that will avoid your child from sucking their thumbs or fingers.
The most effective ways to help your child to get off this habit is by praising them when they don’t suck on their thumb or fingers. Encouraging your children always works wonders. If your child sucks their thumbs out of boredom, try to distract them by redirecting their focus on other things that may interest them.
If your child is anxious and insecure, try to find out the reason behind this and try and comfort them. You can also place a bandage over their thumb or finger or a sock over their hand while they sleep.
Our pediatric dental team is also happy to help you prevent this habit for your child. If you would like help or to schedule a visit, please contact us today and we would love to hear from you :)