Thumb-sucking is a natural habit in young children. It’s something that relaxes them and causes them to feel more secure, and it could even aid sleep. However, if it continues for too many years, thumb-sucking can cause a number of dental issues.

As adult teeth are replacing the primary teeth, thumb-sucking can disturb the general growth of the mouth, including teeth-alignment. It can also cause abnormal changes to the roof of the mouth.

The majority of kids stop sucking their thumbs at the point permanent teeth are ready to come in—somewhere between 2-4 years of age. The children who go on sucking their thumbs past this stage are at a higher risk for damage.

An additional influence that determines whether or not damage will occur is the intensity of the child’s sucking. Children who suck their thumbs with vigor will have more dental issues than children who only stick their thumb in their mouth. In fact, children who suck their thumbs aggressively have been known to develop issues before the arrival of their adult teeth.

Here are a couple of tips to help get your children to cease sucking their thumbs:

• Discover and treat the cause of the anxiety that is making them want to suck their thumb in the first place.

• Give your child praise when they’re not sucking their thumb.

• Ask Doctors Egbert, Naylor, Powers, or Reineck to explain the risks and offer advice.

If you notice your child is still sucking his or her thumb beyond the arrival of their permanent teeth, and you aren’t able to eliminate the problem yourself, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment at Milford Dental Excellence—before problems arise.