Pacifier and Thumb Sucking

Did you know that the first teeth appear around 6 months and that thumb sucking begins before age 1? The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry supports the early use of a pacifier for reasons including: self-soothing and self-regulation, comfort during minor procedures, decreasing incidence of SIDS, and preventing a persistent thumb or finger sucking habit. In this post, we answer common questions in relation to this.

Does your child use a pacifier and/or suck their thumb? Non-nutritive sucking is a natural reflex that infants and toddlers use to self-soothe. It is totally normal. Pacifier use is preferable to a thumb or finger habit.

However, using a pacifier or thumb sucking past 3 years old can lead to dental issues such as an anterior open bite, a posterior cross-bite, and an anterior overjet. So, when should my child stop using the pacifier? Orofacial growth can be affected after 18 months. We typically recommend by age 4 at the latest to prevent more complex problems.

Most children stop these habits without intervention. Different strategies can be employed, including positive reinforcement. Habit appliances are typically reserved for older children after all other methods have been exhausted.

A few tips: use a one-piece pacifier as it is less prone to breakage, don’t dip in honey (!), boil for 15 minutes to reduce bacteria that could cause oral yeast infections!


For more information, click the link below to the APPD’s article on their policy on pacifiers.