Do Children Suck Their Thumbs?
Children suck on things because sucking is one of a baby's
natural instincts. Sucking makes them feel secure and content,
and may induce drowsiness. Prolonged thumbsucking (or pacifier
sucking) interferes with the proper growth of the mouth and
the alignment of the teeth. This improper development, if
not corrected, will change the appearance of the child's face.
When Should Children Stop Sucking Their Thumbs?
Children should have ceased sucking between the ages of 2
to 4. If you are having trouble breaking your child's habit,
- Comfort him if he is feeling insecure. Sometimes children
suck their thumb for a sense of security.
- Instead of scolding your child for thumbsucking, praise
him when he doesn't suck his thumb, especially during difficult
- Explain to older children the dangers of thumbsucking
and involve them in choosing the method to break the habit.
An open bite often results from thumbsucking or prolonged
use of a pacifier. If the open bite is not corrected early,
the child may develop a habit of deviated swallowing and/or
anterior tongue thrust. (This is when the child presses against
the back of his teeth repeatedly and subconsciously with his
tongue). These habits lead to further dental problems and
make correction of the open bite more difficult.
The best cure for open bite is to prevent it in the first
place by eliminating thumbsucking and the use of pacifiers
as early as possible for your child. Untreated, open bite
can lead to facial malformation, abnormal speech patterns
and significant orthodontic complications.