Posted .

Does your child suck their thumb when they are upset or scared? This can be a perfectly normal and acceptable habit for infants and toddlers, but when does it need to end? Can sucking on a thumb really make changes to their teeth? The answer is yes, yes it can.

Sucking on their thumb can be a source of comfort to your child while in their infancy and toddler years as they grow. However, when your child reaches 4 years of age, you may want to start discouraging thumb sucking behaviors. Frequently doing these habits could begin to affect their mouth as it develops and can lead to changes in their palate over time.

In many cases, the habit will disappear on its own as your child ages and they figure out the behavior isn’t acceptable. If they do not, there are a few ways that you could help them break the habit. You can have a reward chart that tracks your child’s progress towards quitting. Be sure to make the goals achievable for them. If your child is having a particularly difficult time quitting, you might want to buy something to cover the thumb like a glove or something with an unpleasant taste to remind them not to put it in their mouth. Make sure you use positive reinforcement with your child because anything else could cause more stress which can lead to more thumb sucking behavior. For more information on helping your child quit thumb sucking, feel free to contact Treasured Smiles Children’s Dentistry, Duane C. Clouse, PC.

If your child still sucks their thumb at 5 or 6 years old, their teeth may be affected. For example, their front teeth could jut out. These changes could impact their permanent teeth as well. Our dentist can evaluate your child and may be able to recommend further treatment if necessary.

If you live in the Maricopa, Arizona, area and would like to make an appointment with Dr. Duane C. Clouse, please call us at 520-316-6111. We look forward to helping you.