Thumb Sucking: Everything A Parent Should Know

Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp
Share on twitter

Table of Contents

All kids have a tendency of putting their finger in their mouth and sucking it. This is a behaviour that usually lasts  for many years. Sucking one’s thumb is a natural response that may be useful or detrimental in youngsters. Sucking a thumb or other fingers, as well as sucking a pacifier or other items, provides new-borns with a sense of security or delight, and helps them better grasp the world around them. Sucking allows young toddlers to relax and fall asleep. Most infants outgrow this innocuous behaviour by the age of three, with no fears or interventions, but other children’s sucking habits are so severe or frequent that they cause dental and social problems.

Teeth may frequently fix themselves with normal development if thumb sucking is stopped by the age of four.. However, research shows that one out of every eight children aged seven to eleven has a long-term digit-sucking habit. If the practise persists past the age of four, the adult teeth’s position may be permanently altered, making self-correction less likely. This emphasises the need of preventing thumb sucking from beginning at a young age. Thumb sucking can have serious and long-term consequences for dental health if it becomes a habit.

iStock 471869263

What may be the Causes of thumb sucking?

Natural sucking reflexes in infants result in the thumb or fingers entering the mouth. This response might start even before birth. Because sucking offers a kid a sense of security, pleasure and comfort, it gradually becomes a habit that allows the infant to relax or fall asleep.

Adults who suck their thumbs may discover that it helps them relax by reducing worry and tension.

It’s conceivable that some people who suck their thumbs suffered trauma as children and used the practise to cope. In certain cases, the behaviour will just stay, providing a convenient stress relief.

Thumb sucking may become an unintentional behaviour, used to relieve boredom as well as stress.

Correct age for intervention to stop the habit?

Sucking thumb is absolutely normal and not a concern till the child turns three or four. However, it affects the formation as well as shape of the palate beyond this time period. It may also alter the position and arrangement of teeth. As a result, due to a lack of space, it produces crowding of the teeth and palatal deformity. More teeth will be destroyed if the kid continues to suck his or her finger aggressively than if the child merely places his finger immobile in the mouth.

What are the Effects of thumb sucking?

Long-term use of pacifiers and fingers can cause significant tooth damage. Take a look at the most essential points below:

  • Jaw disorders: Pacifiers come in a variety of sizes and forms, with the majority of them being unsuitable for use in the mouth. As a result, sucking a thumb or a pacifier might lead to jaw problems.
  • Dental caries: Many parents try to soothe their babies by soaking the pacifier in honey or other sweet treats. Bacteria in the mouth feed on carbohydrates and generate acids that are toxic to the body. These acids eat away the tooth enamel, causing decay in the child’s teeth.
  • Palatal narrowing: In childhood, oral structures are extremely malleable. Sucking over an extended period of time narrows the palate. The flexible palatal region allows it to assume the form of the thing being sucked. The narrowing and deepening of the palatal region, in turn, creates various issues in the developing teeth, such as teeth disorientation and crowding leading to forwardly placed teeth.
  • Malocclusions: Malocclusions are a kind of issues that occurs when In the long run, sucking thumbs and pacifiers causes developing teeth to be slanted, making their appearance less appealing. Furthermore, it increases the chance of orthodontic work being required.
  • Anterior open bite: On closing the mouth, the upper and lower jaws’ incisor teeth are not properly aligned.
  • Intruded anterior teeth: Sucking a finger can cause the anterior teeth to protrude, which is a common issue. Sucking a finger can influence jaw formation, causing the jaw and teeth to grow ahead of the rest of the face.
  • Cross Bite: The upper jaw is narrower than the lower jaw, causing the teeth in both jaws to be mal When a youngster is sucking his thumb, a shift in the muscles of the cheek might cause a cross bite. Injuries to the mouth and thumbs Sucking in and out without sound is less damaging than sucking in and out with sound. Severe thumb sucking is likely to cause palatal ulcers and even mouth sores. Furthermore, wounds and scars on the thumbs are to be expected.
  • Speech disorders: One of the most common side effects of thumb sucking in youngsters once permanent teeth have emerged is a speech problem. The irregularity of the teeth makes it difficult to produce various sounds. Long-term finger sucking also interferes with tongue mobility and Primary Swallowing Patterns in children. As a result, we will see a decrease in the ability to swallow completely. Thumb sucking affects the pronunciation of the following sounds and words: n, l, d, e, and z.

open bite

Ways to reduce/stop thumb sucking habit

  • Talk: Always begin by explaining why thumb sucking is a negative behaviour to your youngster. Although talking alone does not generally break the habit, it can assist your youngster in deciding to stop. Half the struggle is finding positive motivation to quit. The following are some topics to discuss with your child:
  • Positive incentive system or sticker chart: Make a sticker chart and shower success with praise and positive reinforcement. Your youngster may require a sticker for each hour he or she goes without sucking at first. If she goes all day, she may require a special treat, such as more reading at night. You should eventually be able to access a daily sticker chart.
  • Praise your kid throughout the day: Find a technique to remind yourself or your child’s caregiver to praise your child at least once an hour for not sucking. Consider using your phone to set an alarm or a reminder.
  • Keep the hands occupied and distracted. In fact, you won’t be able to keep them distracted 100% of the time, therefore this approach may be used in conjunction with others. Distractions such as arts & crafts, writing, jewellery making, athletics, baking, riding, and playing with toys are all acceptable options.
  • Nail polish with a bad taste. These don’t always work since kids want their finger in their mouth too much to bear the terrible taste, but they’re worth a go.
  • Hands in socks at night or cloth coverings during the day. This may be a temporary solution, but if the socks are detachable, your youngster is likely to outwit the sock. If they’re older, the covering may serve as a reminder that the thumb isn’t available, and it may be able to assist them when they subconsciously suck the thumb, which happens all the time.
  • Consult a dentist – Your dentist can be the best guide to help you counsel the child and also fabricate appliances which help to stop the habit.


Leave Your Comment