Non-nutritive sucking habits and their effects on the occlusion in the deciduous dentition in children

Eur J Paediatr Dent. 2016 Dec;17(4):301-306.


Aim: The study evaluated the presence of non-nutritive sucking habits and and their effects on the occlusion in the deciduos dentition in Spanish children.

Materials and methods: Study design: Cross-sectional survey. A clinical examination was performed by an experienced examiner in 275 children aged 3 to 6 years and the collected data included the presence of anterior open bite (vertical dimension), unilateral or bilateral posterior crossbite (transverse dimensions), midline deviation and sagittal relationships between incisors, molars and canines. In addition, the parents of each child completed a questionnaire about oral habits. Data analysis included descriptive statistics (frequency distribution). Statistical significance for the association between the non-nutritive sucking habits and development of malocclusion was determined using Chi-square and Fisher's exact tests. Multiple logistic regression analysis was used in order to adjust the results for confounding effects of non-nutritive habits before assessing statistical significance.

Results: Non-nutritive sucking habit was observed in 224 children (81.5%) and malocclusions were present in 152 children (55.2%). There were significant relationships between pacifier sucking habit and transverse dimension alteration (OR= 3.29, CI: 0.97- 11.17, p=0.044), midline deviation (OR= 3.00, CI: 1.22-7.38, p=0.013). Children with a history of finger sucking (or thumb sucking) had an increased risk of malocclusion 4.25 times higher (CI: 0.92-19.58, p=0.044) and there was a significant relationship between finger sucking and vertical relationship (OR= 8.25, CI: 2.50-27.25, p=0.001). Children with non- nutritive sucking habits had an increased risk of malocclusion 2.55 higher compared to those without non-nutritive sucking habits (p=0.004). CONCLUSION There was an impact of non-nutritive sucking habit and development of malocclusions in this sample of children.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Fingersucking / adverse effects*
  • Habits*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Malocclusion / etiology*
  • Pacifiers / adverse effects*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tooth, Deciduous*