Blog Post

The Suck-ish Results of Prolonged Thumb-Sucking
Posted on 11/18/2015

The Suck-ish Results of Prolonged Thumb-Sucking

Blog01_18Nov2015.jpgThumb-sucking is a normal part of child development.

Most babies and toddlers will inherently suck their thumbs. And most will just as naturally wean off the thumb-sucking little by little, kicking the habit on their own between ages three to six.

However, if a child begins relying on thumb-sucking as a coping mechanism to deal with fear, hunger, restlessness, boredom, and other forms of anxiety, this can lead to a dependence on the habit. Which, in turn, can lead to other problems.

What’s at Stake:

Prolonged thumb-sucking can cause teeth to become misaligned and can lead to malocclusion (teeth that grow in at an outwards angle).

These problems have the capability to correct themselves if thumb-sucking desists. But the longer a child keeps with the habit, their chances of needing more intensive orthodontic treatment later on only increases.

Some Things You Can Do:

To help your child kick their thumb-sucking habit before it damages their smile, here are some things you can do at home.

  • First off, set rules. Setting limits on times and places when/where a child is allowed to suck their thumb can periodically diminish their reliance on the habit.
  • Second, wrap your child’s thumb with an adhesive bandage or put gloves on their hands to help discourage the practice.
  • Third, offer praise, rewards, and other positive reinforcement to your child for not sucking their thumb.
  • And finally, do not punish your child for sucking their thumb. This habit is one that is most commonly rooted in anxiety; therefore, adding stress to the situation will only make matters worse.

In Conclusion

In truth, most children will outgrow thumb-sucking on their own. And the practice is perfectly normal for children of pre-school age or younger, so it is nothing to be concerned about during their early years. Like every aspect of your child’s developmental health, thumb-sucking is just something to be aware of and keep an eye on for the future.