Gallatin Valley Pediatric Dentistry

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child sucking their thumb


Thumb sucking, according to the American Dental Association, is a natural reflex in infants even before birth, as seen through ultrasounds. Thus, you don’t need to be hard on your child if they exhibit this habit as an infant. However, as your child grows, you may start to worry about this behavior, how it can impact their development, and the need to stop it. Therefore, understanding why thumb sucking beyond a certain age is a bad idea and how to stop it is important.

Why Thumb Sucking Is A Bad Idea

Thumb sucking is normal as long as your child is using a pacifier. It makes your child feel comfortable and happy and soothes them when anxiety sets in. This habit also induces sleep, and most children will suck their thumbs before bedtime. Despite these benefits, you should not allow your child to continue with this behavior by the time they turn two years, as it will disrupt teeth development. Usually, a child who sucks their thumb will have tooth misalignment affecting their bite. The upper roof of their mouth may also narrow, affecting the development of their secondary teeth. Therefore, stopping this habit will prevent these problems.

How To Discourage Your Child From Thumb Sucking

Given the above cons of thumb sucking, you should start discouraging your child from thumb sucking as soon as their first tooth erupts. To do this, you can offer pacifiers, as they are easier to take away than the thumb. You can also encourage your child to stop by rewarding or praising them anytime they attempt to stop. Finally, you can talk to us to learn how to go about this process and the benefits of stopping this habit. For more details on thumb sucking and how to stop it, contact our office today.