Pacifier and Finger Sucking

Did you know that finger sucking and/or the use of a pacifier alter the position of the tongue? Habits such as the pacifier/finger sucking are called non-nutritious sucking habits. Sucking is a strong, instinctive and reflex action in newborns. During the first years it is considered normal, because it is associated with a need for the baby’s satisfaction Sucking is a natural reflex that relaxes and comforts babies and toddlers. Children usually cease sucking habits when the permanent front teeth are ready to erupt.

  • Babies who are exclusively breastfed until they are six months old are less likely to develop non-nutritious sucking habits (finger sucking and/or pacifier).

  • The need for sucking is different in each child and it generally decreases with age. However, it seems that the habit of finger sucking is more difficult to quit than the pacifier.

  • The long-term effects of prolonged sucking habits (after age 2) are related to malocclusions (incorrect closure of the mouth / incorrect relation between the upper maxillary and the jaw), especially with anterior open bites and cross bites, which is more serious and permanent.

  • Malocclusion is a multifactorial pathology, so the effects of prolonged sucking habits vary according to its duration, frequency and intensity, facial muscles, genetic predisposition, etc.

  • Not all habits have the same meaning or the same sequels for each child, so a specific age to start treatment cannot be determined. We believe therapy must be postponed until the dental and emotional risks and consequences of the habits become greater than their benefits.

  • Typically, children stop between the ages of 2 and 4 years. Thumb sucking that persists beyond the eruption of primary teeth can cause improper growth of the mouth and misalignment of the teeth. If you notice prolonged and/or vigorous thumb sucking behaviour in your child, talk to your dentist. Here are some ways to help your child outgrow thumb sucking.

    • Don’t scold a child when they exhibit thumb sucking behaviour; instead, praise them when they don’t thumb suck.

    • Focus on eliminating the cause of anxiety—thumb sucking is a comfort device that helps children cope with stress or discomfort.

    • Praise them when they refrain from the habit during difficult periods.

    • Place a bandage on the thumb or a sock on their hand at night.
    • » Our advice regarding non-nutritive sucking habits is
      • Never wet the pacifier in honey or any other liquid that contains sugar.

        Do not hang the pacifier from your baby's clothes; having it at hand at all times is not recommended.
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