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Friday: 8:00AM - 1:00PM
Office Location
Phone: 712-580-3300
Fax: 712-580-4328
14 East 4th Street
Spencer, IA 51301

Thumb, Finger and Pacifier Habits

Are Thumb and Pacifier Habits Normal?

Thumb sucking is completely normal for infants and young children; many stop by age 2. It provides security and relaxation. Between the ages of 2 and 4, no harm is done to the teeth or jaws. Prolonged thumb sucking can create crooked teeth or bite problems. Children should cease thumb sucking prior to the eruption of their permanent teeth. Pacifiers are no substitute for thumb sucking. They can affect the teeth essentially the same way as sucking fingers and thumbs If you have concerns about a thumb or pacifier habit consult Dr. Schmidt.

A few suggestions to help your child get through thumb sucking:
  • Instead of scolding children for thumb sucking, praise them when they are not.
  • Children often suck their thumbs when feeling insecure. Focus on correcting the cause of anxiety, instead of the thumb sucking.
  • Children who are sucking for comfort will feel less of a need when their parents provide comfort.
  • Reward children when they refrain from sucking during difficult periods, such as when being separated from their parents.
  • Dr. Schmidt or staff can help encourage children to stop sucking and explain what could happen if they continue.

If these approaches don’t work, remind the children of their habit by bandaging the thumb or putting a sock on the hand at night. Dr. Schmidt may recommend the use of a mouth appliance.

For further information on this effective technique, please see How to Help Stop Digit Sucking Habit