Child Thumb Sucking

Does your child suck his or her thumb?

Does your child suck her or her thumb? It’s not uncommon; almost 75% of babies under a year of age suck their thumbs. It’s kinda cute, quiets kids down and seems harmless. Experts confirm that kids under age three benefit from the self-comfort thumb sucking provides.

But when it goes beyond the first few years, thumb sucking can lead to a mouth–or jaw–full of problems down the road. Even kids who do not have their permanent teeth yet are at risk for development issues. Constant pressure on the jaw and mouth caused by thumb sucking can change the way these parts develop. Sucking can cause the upper jaw to narrow, which changes the child’s bite. As the child gets older, teeth in the back of the mouth are forced to take on the brunt of chewing. This can lead to dental issues down the road.

So what can you do to help your kid kick the habit?
Limit the amount of time that you allow your child suck his or her thumb. Restrict thumb-sucking to in the house, do not allow it in public.
Help your child be aware of thumb-sucking. Many kids do it unconsciously. Help them find another way to feel comfort.
Don’t use the nasty-tasting topical stuff. It’s not nice and it’s not fair. Remember, they’re children.
Don’t cover their hand with a glove or mitten. Would you want to wear winter gear indoors to help you break a bad habit?

Keep in mind that your child is his or her own person. They will grow out of the need for thumb sucking when they’re ready, and not a minute sooner.

A child who continues to suck his or her thumb is dealing with anxiety the best way they know how. Be patient as you help them work through finding another way to self-comfort.

Visit to learn more fun facts about children’s oral health.


Written by: Lisa Konen on January 31, 2012.

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