Sucking on fingers or pacifiers is completely normal for babies and young children. For young babies, it is a way to make contact with and learn about the world. In fact, babies begin to suck on their fingers or thumbs even before they are born.
The majority of children stop sucking on thumbs or pacifiers on their own between the ages of 2 and 4. If continued past the age of 4 these habits can cause the upper front teeth to lean toward the lip or not erupt properly. Frequent habits over a prolonged period of time can affect the way the child’s teeth bite together, as well as the growth of the jaws and bones that support the teeth.
Dr. Mannella, Dr. Giancona and Dr. Russo will carefully watch the way your child’s teeth erupt and jaws develop at their regular checkups. Because persistent habits may cause long term problems, intervention may be necessary. Some children need encouragement to stop. When your child is old enough to understand the possible results of a sucking habit, our pediatric dentists and hygienists can help your child overcome the habit by speaking with your child and explaining what thumb sucking can do to the teeth. Often, this one on one advice, coupled with support from parents, helps children quit.