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Can Thumbsucking or Pacifier Use Cause Dental Problems?


Sucking on the thumb, fingers, a pacifier, or another object is a normal response for children. Up to a certain age, usually between 2 and 6 years old, it is perfectly healthy and safe for them to engage in this behavior. However, our extensively trained pediatric dentists and orthodontist explain that if children continue aggressively sucking after the permanent front teeth begin to erupt, this can cause a number of dental problems.

If a child simply holds a thumb or fingers in the mouth without sucking, or only very gently sucks, this may not be a serious concern. Aggressive or vigorous sucking, on the other hand, can lead to changes in the jaw structure and/or alignment of the teeth. These issues will likely need correction with early phase orthodontics or more advanced techniques. In many cases, children will stop sucking on their own. For instance, when a child attends school and sees that other kids no longer suck on their thumbs, they may also feel like they should stop. In the event that a child chooses to continue, our skilled dental team can provide effective solutions to help break this habit.

For more advice on how to stop thumbsucking, or to discuss another aspect of pediatric dentistry, please reach out to one of our team members.