Thumb sucking and Pacifier Use By Kenneth Bagby, D.D.S. on March 19, 2017

Most children develop the habit of sucking on either a pacifier or his or her thumb, in some case both, to soothe themselves in infancy. This habit then usually follows the child through toddlerhood, and it will eventually need to be confronted and curbed to prevent any damage to the child’s teeth or mouth.

Thumb sucking can alter the natural alignment of teeth in the mouth, especially when the child’s permanent teeth start to enter the mouth. It’s usually best to attempt to wean the child away from the thumb sucking or pacifier habit when they are between the ages of two and four.

It’s a difficult habit for most children to break because they do it when it soothes them. Many children when they are feeling tired, anxious, and nervous will resort to the habit. Although the two habits aren’t quit equally: a pacifier can be removed from the child’s life, and, while he or she may experience a withdraw from the habit, they will also get over it more quickly because you’ve taken away the pacifier: out of sight, out of mind.

Obviously, a child’s thumb is always there, and because a child uses thumb sucking at odd times including during the night, it’s impossible for you to always be there to coach them away from it. So, what do you do? How do you encourage a child to stop sucking his or her thumb? First, it’s recommended that you praise a child for not sucking their thumb, let them know when they’ve tried to stop the habit, even momentarily.

Punishing the child for sucking his or her thumb could have the opposite consequences, as the child will be nervous and anxious from being punished, and thereby more likely to continue the habit. Consider rewarding the child when he or she refrains, especially during a difficult period when the child’s tired, or when the child’s being put into a stressful situation.

If you have any questions as to how to curtail your child’s thumb sucking habit, or would like a dentist to speak with your child as to the importance of quitting thumb sucking (it offers an outside perspective, which sometimes can give the reasons more authority) call the office today.

Related to This

Dr. Bagby

Kenneth J. Bagby DDS, PC

The practice of Drs. Kenneth Bagby and Erica R. Stokke has provided superior, advanced, and personalized care to Billings, MT, patients since 1985. They specialize in dental occlusion issues, relieving TMJ disorder symptoms, and replacing missing teeth with dental implants. Our highly reviewed dentists are affiliated with prestigious organizations such as:

  • International College of Dentists 
  • American Dental Association
  • Montana Dental Association
  • Academy of General Dentistry

To schedule your free consultation or second opinion, contact our Billings, MT, office using our online form or by calling (406) 252-1078.

Contact Us

"Dr. Bagby is focused on preventive care. He takes the time to explain what I can do to take better care of my teeth and health. He and his staff are caring and courteous, and I always leave with a smile." Tristan

Rate, Review & Explore

Social Accounts Sprite
Google map image of our location in 1540 Lake Elmo Dr Ste 3 Billings, MT

Billings Office

1540 Lake Elmo Dr
Ste 3
Billings, MT 59105

Closed Today

Open Friday By Appointment

(406) 252-1078 Send a message