Thumb sucking habits In


why does my child still suck their thumb?

Thumb sucking is completely normal in babies and young children. Most babies and toddlers suck on their thumbs, fingers, hands, pacifiers, or pretty much anything they can get their hands on. And in young kids, this is not a cause for concern. Most kids stop sucking their thumbs between the ages of 3 or 4.

In older kids, thumb sucking is less common. Kids over the age of 4 often suck their thumbs for comfort, stress relief, and to soothe themselves, and they should break the habit. Continuing to suck their thumb could cause serious oral health issues. If your child is over the age of 4 and has a thumb sucking habit, schedule a consultation at Harmony Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics to explore their treatment options.

girl sucking her thumb

Did you know…

mouth icon

Frequent thumb sucking can cause a callus to develop on the thumb. This is a sure sign that you should seek help to stop your child’s thumb sucking habit.

Ready to schedule your child’s appointment?

Learn More

How Do You Treat A Thumb Sucking Habit? Our Recommendations

dentist icon

start with limitations

For example, instead of trying to get your child to stop thumb sucking completely, you can restrict them to 15 minutes of thumb sucking before bed or a nap. These limitations help your child ease away from thumb sucking gradually.

tooth icon

wrap the thumb or use a glove

Putting a bandage, a cloth, or a glove on your child’s thumb or hand may help stop them from thumb sucking. They typically will not enjoy it as much and the thumb covering may remind them that they are not supposed to suck their thumb.

tooth icon

praise your child for not thumb sucking

For example, consider a reward program. Put a gold star on a calendar for every day your child doesn’t suck their thumb, or abides by their thumb sucking limitations. Then, give them a reward or celebrate when they make it a week or a month!

tooth icon

avoid punishing your child

Do not scold, shame, yell, or punish your child for thumb sucking. This is unproductive, and thumb sucking is often associated with anxiety and emotional stress, so it could make things worse. Use positive reinforcement, not negativity.

tooth icon

get help from a dentist

If none of these strategies work, Dr. Sholander may be able to help. Certain thumb and mouth devices and behavioral treatments may help your child break the habit, and Dr. Sholander can explore further ways to prevent thumb sucking.

More About Thumb Sucking Habits

arrow icon

can a thumb sucking habit cause health issues?

Yes. Thumb sucking can cause the teeth to develop improperly, especially once the adult teeth start to erupt around the age of 5-6. It may cause bite problems (malocclusion) and other orthodontic problems that may require early interceptive orthodontic treatment. 

This can also lead to speech impediments, like not being able to say Ts and Ds properly. Thumb sucking can also lead to a higher risk of the cold, flu, and other infectious diseases, since your child is constantly putting unclean fingers in their mouth. 

Prolonged thumb sucking can also cause skin irritation and cracked or dry skin around the thumb, which is painful and can lead to a higher risk of infections.

© Harmony Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics 2019

Website by  Wonderist Agency  |  Privacy Policy