Thumb sucking is a habit that children may develop as a means to pacify or entertain themselves. It is estimated that three-quarters of children will suck their thumb before reaching the age of one. According to experts this behavior during infancy or preschool age is rarely something to be concerned about. “Thumb-sucking in children younger than 4 is usually not a problem.” (WebMD)
If thumb sucking continues as children mature to school age, parents are advised to intervene as it may cause social or physical problems. A child’s peers may tease or isolate them for sucking their thumb. Children’s permanent teeth typically come in around age five and thumb sucking can cause dental problems such as overbites to develop. Thumb sucking can also lead to complications in speech such as lisping or thrusting of the tongue.
There are several things parents can do help their child overcome this habit:
- Talk to your child; explain to them how thumb sucking can affect them.
- Offer motivation by creating a reward system, such as a sticker chart.
- Build self-awareness, children are often unaware of thumb sucking.
- Speak to your dentist who can offer a special mouth guard or dental appliance to deter sucking.
To speak with a pediatric dentist at Flushing Hospital Medical Center, please call 718-670-5521.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.