Should I be concerned about my child’s finger sucking (or pacifier) habit?

Finger sucking habit starts to develop before the baby is even born. Most parents seem to understand that finger sucking or using pacifier is completely normal for babies and young children. It provides comforting and security. Most children stop these habits on their own between two and four years of age. Depending on how frequent and intensive they are, the sucking habits generally do not cause any dental problem if the child stops the habits before permanent teeth erupt. Intensive or prolonged sucking habits can have adverse effects on dental development.

To help the child stop the habits when he/she is old enough to understand the possible results of a sucking habit, we will work with the child and the parents as a team, provide support, reminder, and give positive reinforcement. Parents are encouraged to identify and work on things that may be causing the child’s anxiety. Some children tend to suck their fingers during certain time of the day (for example, when they are bored, or bedtime). Parents can try to help those children to find other ways for comforting to substitute the sucking habits. In some cases, a mouth appliance may be helpful as a reminder to the child.