8 Interesting Facts About Thumb Sucking

Thumb sucking is not an unusual habit for babies, toddlers, and young children, but parents and dentists often worry about the repercussions.

Here are 8 interesting facts about thumb sucking

  1. Thumb sucking is quite common and very normal. It’s a comfort mechanism that psychologists say mimics the feel-good effects of breastfeeding. Some babies even begin sucking their thumbs in utero.
  2. Children who suck their thumbs often do so when they’re feeling stressed, upset, hungry, or bored.
  3. Most children stop sucking their thumbs on their own between age 2 and age 4.
  4. Thumb sucking isn’t usually problematic if the child still has baby teeth. However, once the permanent teeth come in, it can lead to dental problems. The force of the thumb pushes the top teeth forward, which will require orthodontic treatment to correct.
  5. In addition to pushing the teeth out of place, constant thumb sucking can cause narrowing of the jaw and leave a space in the roof of the mouth. These changes can lead to uneven stress placed on the teeth when chewing.
  6. A few other problems with the habit: thumb sucking introduces bacteria into the mouth, the skin on the thumb can become sore and infected, and children who suck their thumbs may be taunted if the habit continues into the school years.
  7. One way to stop thumb sucking is to create a rewards system. As your child goes certain lengths of time without sucking his or her thumb, a small reward can help banish the habit.
  8. Another way to curb the habit is to have your child’s dentist place a fixed palatal crib in your child’s mouth. The appliance is attached to the roof of his or her mouth and the upper teeth and works by taking away the child’s ability to touch the roof of his or her mouth, thus taking the pleasure out of the habit.

Overall, thumb sucking isn’t something to be overly concerned about unless the habit continues after your child’s teeth have come in.

If that is the case, it’s best to see a dentist to determine whether damage is being done and, if so, to find ways to combat the problem.

The best thing you can do is to monitor your child’s oral health and take him or her to the dentist on a regular basis.