What are oral habits and why do they exist?

Oral habits often start in infancy and sometimes in the womb. Pacifier sucking, digit sucking, thumb sucking, and finger sucking are considered typical oral behaviors for infants and young children. In fact, they can develop as self-soothing techniques babies and young children use to fall asleep or comfort themselves in times of distress.

Sometimes these oral habits are simply coping mechanisms for unpleasant feelings. In other cases, these oral behaviors are just a force of habit the child has yet to break. For other possible reasons oral habits persist, visit our blog post.

Though they may seem harmless, prolonged oral habits such as pacifier sucking, digit sucking, thumb sucking, and finger sucking can be detrimental to oral and dental development and could lead to speech impediments and/or perpetuation of an infantile swallowing pattern.


When should I be concerned about my child’s oral habits?

The American Dental Association recommends actively discouraging pacifier use and digit sucking habits that persist beyond the age of four.

That’s why our Certified Orofacial Myologist® here at Pittsburgh Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy, LLC offers a kind, patient, and supportive oral habit cessation program to help children kick oral habits.

We offer guidance for parents of children under age 4, but our flagship program is available for age 4 and up.


What to expect in our programs


Initial Appointment

Our fun and appliance-free programs begin with an initial appointment that involves an abbreviated myofunctional screening as well as an assessment of readiness to quit. Depending on our findings in the evaluation, we will either set a date to commence the program if your child is ready, or we will provide you with some tools and strategies to practice in the meantime as your child approaches readiness. It is our experience that many older children want to quit their habits, but they need support and guidance.


Second Appointment

At your child’s second appointment, we will all work together to develop a “quit plan.” Your child will be given a “busy bag,” containing items to help them keep their fingers busy (and out of their mouth). You may recognize some of the strategies involved in the quit plan if you’ve made previous attempts to put an end to the habit. Don’t be discouraged if they didn’t work the first time- we have a few tricks up our sleeves that are almost guaranteed to work!



After this appointment, your child will communicate with us every day for the next seven days to tell me about their progress. This is a measure of accountability as well as a support for any possible slip ups.


Third Appointment

The third and final appointment is a celebration! Together we will reward your child for their hard work and success. They will also receive a special gift from us.

Allow us to assist you in putting the oral habits that may be impacting your child’s oral and facial development to rest. At Pittsburgh Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy, LLC, we care about your child’s success and development.



👍 It is kind and gentle.

👍 It is empowering for children to take control of their own habits.

👍 It is not one-size-fits-all. Our program is customized to your unique needs and cannot be found anywhere else.

👍 Unlike other programs, our systematic approach works well for anyone 4 years or older. In fact, we’ve used this exact system to successfully help adults with smoking habits.

👍 We have been treating oral habits since 2016. We have a great deal of experience and training in helping kids with oral habits, and our program is wildly successful.

👍 Our program is based on principles of neuroscience and the science of habit.


oral habit cessation program certificate