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Thumbs, fingers, and pacifiers

Sucking on thumbs, fingers or pacifiers is normal for infants and young children, and most kids will stop on their own. We advise parents to discourage the habit ideally by age 3.

Prolonged thumb sucking can lead to crooked teeth in both baby teeth and permanent teeth that are developing. This can cause the upper front teeth to tip outward, and the upper jaw to narrow in the back.

Be sure to use a positive approach and focus on praising your child when they are not thumb sucking. Initially, you could try limiting the time and location where thumb sucking occurs. For example, only at home while the child is in their bedroom. Another good approach is to use a habit calendar with a reward at each big step they make.

Constantly urging your children to stop could be detrimental. Children are smart and quickly recognize that they are getting your attention. Ask your pediatric dentist about strategies and reward-based exercises that go a long way towards minimizing the habit.

Source: AAPD


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