Thumb-sucking is an ordinary habit in young children. It’s something that soothes them and makes them feel more secure, and it can even aid sleep. That being said, if it continues on for too long, or if the child sucks too aggressively, the habit can cause a number of dental problems. It’s important to note that this applies to pacifiers as well.
For the most part, kids should stop sucking their thumbs or pacifiers no later than age 3. It is important that children don’t continue sucking their thumbs or pacifiers past this age, as it can hinder the general growth of the mouth by interfering with the alignment of their permanent teeth. It can also cause unnatural changes in the roof of the mouth.
As mentioned earlier, how hard the child is sucking on their thumb can be a factor in the possibility that it will cause harm. Children who suck their thumbs with force will have more dental issues than children who simply stick their thumb in their mouth. In fact, children who suck their thumbs intensely have been known to develop issues ahead of the emergence of their permanent teeth.
Here are just a few tips to help get your kids to stop sucking their thumbs:
- Discover and eliminate the cause of anxiety that is making them want to suck their thumb in the first place.
- Give your child praise for not sucking on their thumb.
- Ask your dentist to explain the risks and offer advice.
If you notice your child is still sucking his or her thumb at age 3, you should consult with Dr. Clauson for some recommendations before issues develop.