Thumbsucking is very natural for many children. Sucking thumbs, fingers, soothers, or other objects makes babies feel safe and happy.
How does thumbsucking affect my child?
Thumbsucking, up to a certain age, is nothing to worry about. However, if your child is sucking their thumb and causing permanent changes to their tooth position or jaw, then it’s time to step in.
Soothers can affect your child the same way, but it’s easier to break the habit of a soother by simply taking it away.
Intensity of the habit is also a factor and should be assessed by a dentist to ensure your child is not causing permanent damage. Damage to teeth can be corrected if caught in time, but damage to the shape of their mouth is a more difficult problem, so it’s really important to assess early.
When should a child stop thumbsucking?
Most kids naturally stop this habit between the ages of two and four.
You can help your child stop thumbsucking by:
- praising or rewarding them for not sucking
- if they are sucking based on anxiety, relieve the cause and provide comfort
- see your dentist to help you with some other specific ways to overcome this habit
When is it time to see the dentist about this habit?
We see children in our office around the age of 2 or 3, so we can usually catch permanent problems caused by thumbsucking early enough to stop them or intervene and correct. It is important to see your dentist early if you think there may be an issue, or if your child sucks their thumb too frequently and you are concerned.
This is an important habit to assess for, since it can cause severe permanent damage if not addressed at the right time.