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Thumb sucking

Why do children suck on their thumb?

Thumb sucking is a normal and widespread habit in babies and young children. Many kids suck on their thumb or fingers during the first year of their life, but only 30% of them continue to do it at preschool age. Thumb sucking is reassuring for children when they are:

  • bored;
  • tired;
  • worried;
  • stressed.

Most children will get rid of this habit before the age of 5, often because of peer pressure. Thumb sucking is not dangerous, unless it is done too intensely or if permanent teeth are ready to erupt, around age 4 or 5.

The effects of thumb sucking

Because the jawbones of children under 8 years old are soft and flexible, thumb sucking can lead to bone deformation and contribute to the misalignment of the future teeth.

The upper front teeth will be rounded and tilted forward, while the lower teeth will be angled towards the back of the mouth. This affliction is called open bite, a term used to describe when the upper and lower teeth are unable to make physical contact with each other when the jaws are closed.

Long-term problems of thumb sucking include malformation of the palate, causing tongue misplacement, as well as chewing, swallowing and speech impediments.

Breaking the habit

This habit must be broken before the eruption of the first permanent teeth. Children who are not able to stop by themselves by the age of 5 need help.

Here are a few tips to help your child:

  • First, do not force your child to stop sucking on their thumb, it will only reinforce the habit.
  • Talk to your child about the reasons why they are sucking on their thumb and what you could do to help them break the habit.
  • Congratulate your child when they are not sucking on their thumb instead of scolding them when they are.
  • Put an incentive program in place to reward them on their progress.
  • Ask our dental team on how you can support your child in breaking their thumb sucking habit.

We can help you

If you follow these tips, but your children still needs help, we can put dental appliance in that will prevent thumb sucking. This solution can be a contributing factor to breaking the habit.