Thumb sucking, thumb-sucking, and cuddle time with teddy bears are some of the most soothing memories of childhood. A recent survey states that between 75% and 95% of newborns are suckers, so there's a good chance someone in your family is a thumb sucker now or in the past. Does this warrant concern?

Generally speaking, the response is no. But, it's crucial to keep an eye on your child's routines in case their actions have the potential to negatively impact oral health in general.

What is normal thumb-sucking behavior?

Most kids start sucking their fingers or thumbs at a very young age; some even start while still in the womb. An infant's natural response is to suckle, and it has a vital function. A small child frequently feels secure and satisfied when they are sucking. Additionally, it can be soothing, which is why many kids suck their thumbs to drift off to sleep.

Between the ages of two and four, most kids quit sucking their thumbs on their own, according to the American Dental Association. They just grow out of a habit that serves no purpose for them anymore. Nonetheless, some kids go on sucking past the preschool years (though research indicates that the older a child gets, the less likely they are to carry on the behavior). When your child's permanent teeth erupt and they are still sucking, it could be time to intervene and help them break the practice.

What signs should I watch for?

First, observe your child's thumb sucking technique. It is less likely to cause damage to the mouth if the sucking is passive and the thumb is gently positioned within the mouth. However, if the thumb sucking is aggressive and puts pressure on the teeth or mouth, it might lead to issues with tooth alignment and healthy mouth development. Prolonged sucking can have an adverse effect on the teeth and facial structure, potentially necessitating orthodontic intervention down the road.

Please give us a call and arrange an appointment if you have any concerns about your child's thumb sucking behavior having an adverse effect on their oral health. We can help you assess the situation.

How can I help my child quit thumb sucking?

If you need to assist your child in breaking the habit, follow these guidelines:

  1. Be supportive and positive to your child. When your child doesn't suck their thumb, praise them instead of punishing them.
  2. Cover your child's thumb with a sock at night or apply a bandage. Tell your child that this is merely a technique to help them remember not to suck; it is not a punishment.
  3. Create a progress chart and let your child put a sticker on it each day that they do well. Your child gets to pick a prize if he or she goes a week without sucking. Give your child a reward at the end of the month; by then, the habit should completely stopped. Your child's willingness to kick the habit will rise if you involve them in their treatment.
  4. If you observe your child sucking while they are nervous, try to address the worry instead than concentrating on the thumb sucking.
  5. Make a note of your child's worst moments (long car rides, watching movies, etc.) and plan activities for them to engage in at those times.
  6. Clearly explain to them what could happen to their teeth if they continue to suck their thumbs.

Regardless of the approach you take, never forget that your child needs your help and understanding as they work to break the thumb-sucking habit.

8:00am to 5:00pm
8:00am to 5:00pm
8:00am to 5:00pm
8:00am to 5:00pm