- Sucking is a natural reflex for infants. This
type of sucking, known as non-nutritive sucking,
provides emotional benefits, enabling the infant
or child to calm himself and focus attention.
- Most children discontinue non-nutritive sucking
habits between the ages of 2 and 4.
- If parents choose to have their infant or child
suck a pacifier, health professionals can advise
them to take certain safety precautions.
- The effects of non-nutritive sucking habits on
developing teeth are minor in infants and children
under age 3.
- The ways in which teeth change as a result of
non-nutritive sucking habits vary with the intensity
(how strong), duration (how long), and frequency
(how often) of the habit as well as with the manner
in which the thumb or fingers are placed in the
- If a non-nutritive sucking habit is not discontinued
before the permanent teeth erupt, the teeth may
- Health professionals can help children stop their
non-nutritive sucking habit. However, it is important
to remember that the child must want to discontinue
the habit for the intervention to be successful.