Pacifier too long?

Are pacifiers better than sucking a thumb? I see plenty of toddlers running around with pacifiers in their mouths these days. I was always worried that my child would suck their thumb, but I also didn’t want my 3-year-old running around with a pacifier in her mouth. My husband and I agreed to take it away about the time we got rid of bottles since that just seemed natural way to do things. Dentists have even said that pacifiers are no different than finger sucking, but I hear many people argue that its easier to take a pacifier away than to keep them from sucking a finger. This is true obviously, but in my case, my oldest went from the pacifier to her finger. I feel we may have taken the pacifier away too early and she needed to soothe herself so she just went to her finger.