Infants and you children can suck on thumbs, fingers, pacifiers and any other objects. Sucking is a innate reflex in infants and young children. It can help them feel safe and happy by providing a sense of security. Sucking a thumb can feel relaxing to a child inducing them to sleep.

Thumb sucking that continues after the coming in of permanent teeth can create problems in the correct development of the mouth and the alignment of teeth in children. The resulting issues are a factor of the intensity with which a child sucks his/her thumb. Vigorous sucking of the thumb can cause a more challenging situation than just keep a thumb passively in the mouth.

Ideally, children should stop sucking their thumbs when their adult teeth erupt. Most children stop thumb sucking between two and four years of age with peer pressure in school-aged children being a major factor in dissuading them from thumb sucking.

Pacifiers cannot be seen as substitutes for sucking on the thumb. Pacifiers can have a similar effect on the teeth as a thumb or fingers. A distinguishing factor between sucking on a thumb/fingers and a pacifier is that the usage of a pacifier can be managed and moderated more easily. You should consult with your pediatric dentist if you are concerned about your child’s thumb sucking or pacifier habit.