Children and Thumb Sucking

Thumb sucking is natural for children. Sucking on pacifiers, thumbs, fingers, or other objects can make babies feel more secure and happy. Young children may also suck their thumb to help them fall asleep.


Thumb SuckingCan Thumb Sucking Affect a Child’s Teeth?

After a child’s permanent teeth come in, thumb sucking may cause problems with the proper growth of the mouth and teeth alignment. Sucking can also cause changes to the roof of the mouth.

Pacifiers can affect the teeth in the same way as sucking fingers and thumbs, but it is often an easier habit to break.

The intensity of the sucking is a factor that determines whether-or-not dental problems can result. If a child rests their thumb passively in their mouths, they are less likely to have difficulty than those who vigorously suck their thumb. Some aggressive thumb-suckers may develop problems with their baby (primary) teeth. If you notice changes in your child’s primary teeth, consult your dentist.


How To Help Your Child Stop Sucking

Children often suck their thumbs when they need comfort. The ADA suggests focusing on correcting the cause and providing comfort to your child. Pacifier use is an easier habit to break. If you offer an infant a pacifier, use a clean one. Never dip a pacifier in sugar, honey, or other sweeteners before giving it to an infant. Praise your child for not sucking the thumb.

Get an older child, involved in a method to stop sucking. Your dentist can offer encouragement to your child and explain what could happen to their teeth if they do not stop sucking the thumb.

If these tips don’t work, remind the child of their habit by bandaging the thumb or putting a sock on the hand at night. Your dentist or pediatrician may prescribe a bitter medication to coat the thumb or the use of a mouth appliance.

Most children stop sucking their thumbs, pacifier, or fingers on their own between the ages of 2 and 4 years. The behavior lessens gradually during this period, as children spend more of their waking hours exploring their surroundings. Peer pressure also causes many school-aged children to stop placing their fingers in their mouths.


Downers Grove Family Dentist

Webster Dental is a premier dental group located at 1121 Warren Avenue, Suite 130, in Downers Grove, Illinois. We specialize in general dentistry, family dentistry, cosmetic dentistryrestorative dentistrydental implants, and periodontal disease with proven results. When you need a dentist in the Western Suburbs, call Webster Dental in Downers Grove at 630.663.0554.

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