Thumb sucking is a natural reflex for children. Sucking on objects such as pacifiers, fingers, and thumbs often make babies feel happy and secure. When the permanent teeth begin to come in, sucking can create problems with the alignment of the teeth and growth of the mouth. Pacifiers can have the same effect on the teeth as fingers, but are often an easier habit for children to break.
Intensity is the determining factor of whether or not sucking will cause dental problems. If children passively rest their thumb or pacifier in their mouth, they’re much less likely to experience problems when compared to children who vigorously suck on their thumbs. Overly aggressive sucking can even cause damage to primary (baby) teeth.
Most children stop sucking their thumbs between the ages of two and four, or by the time their permanent teeth begin to come in. If your child doesn’t stop sucking their thumbs, you should attempt to praise them for not sucking. Sucking is often associated with insecurity, so it’s recommended to try to eliminate any anxiety by providing comfort to your child.
If you notice a change in your child’s teeth, or are concerned about their sucking habits, you should consult your dentist. If you have any further questions, feel free to contact us here at the Rideau Dental Centre by calling 613-230-7475.