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Growth is deeply influenced by the way muscles work

Some parafunctions can alter the harmony of skeletal development and facilitate the emergence of malocclusions. One of the biggest worries is the habit of sucking the thumb, common among in 3-6% of children from 6 to 10 years old.

The use of the soother is less dangerous than finger sucking since the "pacifier" is a passive object that is incapable of producing pressure on the palate. On the contrary, the thumb also exerts active pressure causing greater deformation. Sucking the thumb is up to the child's sole will, making the situation even more difficult.

The use of the soother should cease within 3 years of age. After this time, damage to the facial skeleton in formation can become irreversible.

After the age of three, the children who are still using the soother and those who have the habit of sucking their finger should be brought to the attention of the pediatrician and then to the attention of the orthodontist. Behavioral therapy is recommended for children up to 5-6 years old. After that age, the professional will evaluate each case and prescribe a retainer or a device that prevents the use of finger and pacifier and which is fixed in the mouth, and if it is still limited to behavioral cognitive therapy this could possibly be supported by the child’s neuropsychiatrist. The damage to the facial skull development caused by the finger is the opening of the bite, the contraction of the palate and the impossibility of the jaw to grow properly and forward.


These aspects are well visible in the adolescent face of the photographed patient who had sucked her finger until the age of twelve.

The shape of the pacifier or soother, whether it be a drop, a cherry, or anatomical, is irrelevant at least until the age of 3.

After the age of 3, the anatomic shaped soothers appear to be less harmful.

It is important to always advise on the least amount of time accepted by the child.

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