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Key Points
 
Nearly 100% of normal babies engage in nonnutritive sucking.
 
Most children discontinue their sucking habit between the ages of
2 and 4 years.
 
Thumb suckers usually continue the habit longer than pacifier users.
 
Pacifier use during sleep is associated with a decreased incidence of SIDS.
 
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that families offer a pacifier for all naps and at bedtime.
 
Pacifier introduction should be delayed in breastfed infants until breastfeeding is firmly established.
 
The most common dental effect of nonnutritive sucking is anterior, upward movement of the maxillary central incisors.
 
Nonnutritive sucking is unlikely to result in long-term dental effects if discontinued before the age of 5.
 
Interventions to help a child stop his or her sucking habit include reminder therapy, a reward system, and physical intervention.
 
Bruxism is the habitual grinding of teeth, usually during the night.
 
Juvenile bruxism usually does not persist into adulthood.
 
For severe or persistent bruxism, a mouth guard may be worn at night to protect teeth enamel.
 
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