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How old is too old for thumb or finger sucking?

By September 25, 2019 No Comments

We get asked this question a lot…so let’s find out where sucking comes from and why it starts in the first place.

Infants are born with the natural instinctual urge to suck. Some parents who come to us will often talk about ultrasound images of their child sucking their thumb or finger in the womb. This is perfectly normal and very common. In fact, sucking is a natural reflex and babies start practicing it in the womb so they are ready for breastfeeding when they are born….

Aside from indicating their hunger, thumb sucking also helps provide babies with a feeling of safety and works as a way of self-soothing during times of stress or discomfort.

It’s when this reflex continues beyond infancy that we start to have concerns.

As innocent as thumb sucking may seem, it may hold repercussions for children if they sustain the habit past the age of three. This is especially true when it comes to their dental health.

WHY IS THUMB SUCKING BAD FOR DENTAL HEALTH?

Research shows that thumb and fingers sucking can result in a variety of dental problems related to tooth and jaw alignment. Thumb sucking can cause changes to the teeth, the shape of the palate and impact on the lower jaw’s direction of growth. It can also contribute to crowding and other malocclusion (orthodontic problems) such as open bite and overjet.

WHEN SHOULD YOU PAY ATTENTION?

Generally, if your child still sucks their thumb after the age of three, then you should definitely begin to discourage the habit and monitor their oral development and health.

HOW CAN YOU STOP THE HABIT?

In order to ensure that the quitting process is as gentle as possible, here are a few effective and stress-free tips you can use to stop thumb-sucking:

• Consult your dentist or oral habits specialist
• Offer encouragement by giving your child positive reinforcement when they aren’t sucking
• Figure out the triggering factors that cause your child to suck their thumb

We’re The Thumbsucking Clinic and we help toddlers and children get on top of their sucking habits – get in touch today to see how we can help!

Phone us on 07 47 552055 or see our website for a list of recommended providers of our programs in your area.