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Thumb Sucking

Do you know that it is very normal and safe for your child to suck on their thumb - sometimes even before birth-, depending on their age and the intensity of their habit? As your child is growing, putting objects and fingers in their mouth is a natural way to explore, integrate, and understand their world. Additionally, some children use thumb sucking as a comfort source, how some may use stuffed animals or a blanket.

According to the American Dental Association, children often stop this behavior on their own between the ages of two and four, or by the time, the permanent front teeth are ready to erupt. If you notice changes in your child's primary teeth, or are concerned about your child's thumb sucking, consult your dentist. 

While no condition comes exclusively from thumb sucking, it is important to monitor this habit as it can leads to dental issues down the line if the behavior is severe or continues for too long. Oral problems for your child associated with chronic thumb sucking past a healthy age may include:

•Open Bite. The most serious permanent side effects of thumb sucking are types of dental malocclusion. ...

•Overbite. ...

•Skin Problems. ...

•Speech Impediment. ...

•Social Issues. 

Pacifiers can affect the teeth essentially the same ways as sucking fingers and thumbs, but it is often an easier habit to break.

How can you help your child stop thumb sucking?

•Praise your child for not sucking.

•Children often suck their thumbs when feeling insecure or needing comfort. Focus on correcting the cause of the anxiety and provide comfort to your child.

•For an older child, involve him or her in choosing the method of stopping.

•Your dentist can offer encouragement to your child and explain what could happen to their teeth if they do not stop sucking.

If these tips do not work, remind the child of their habit by bandaging the thumb or putting a sock on the hand at night. Your dentist may prescribe a bitter medication to coat the thumb or the use of a mouth appliance.

Dr Sawsan Nasreddine is working with the health promotion team at Elite

Pediatric Dentist

Call 44960960 for appointments or book on the website or app