Many children go through a phase where they suck their thumbs. For most children, this habit ends around age 4, but that is not always the case. For children who continue to suck their thumb, they can experience some major oral problems down the road. At Children's Dental Specialists of Lake County, we want to help your child have a healthy, beautiful smile, and we want to help them avoid any oral problems. When you bring your child into our practice, Drs. Richards and Miller can help ensure that your child’s teeth develop normally and that your child receives any additional treatment that may be necessary. If you have any questions about your child’s thumb sucking in Mentor, Ohio, or if you would like to schedule an appointment with our pediatric dentists, please contact us today at (440)266-1740.

Thumb sucking is a habit that most babies and young children develop. It provides a sense of contentment or security and can be relaxing. Most infants begin sucking their thumb around age 2 and end the habit around age 4. Some children, however, continue this habit for many years, and this can lead to a series of dental and oral problems.

Because there are different ways that a child can suck their thumb, there are different issues that may arise. If your child simply rests their thumb inside their mouth, there is likely to be no or minimal damage. If, however, your child places pressure on their mouth or teeth and sucks their thumb aggressively, they may face more serious problems, including:

    • Crooked teeth
    • Malformed roof of the mouth
    • Halted or altered mouth or jaw growth
    • Strong overbite or underbite
    • Speech difficulties

To help your child avoid these consequences, it is important to try and help your child quit thumb sucking at an appropriate age. You can help your child quit this habit by:

  • Being supportive and positive in your approach by giving praise when your child does not suck their thumb.
  • Wrapping a band-aid around their thumb or a sock around their hand while they sleep. This is not a punishment, but simply a way to help them remember not to suck their thumb.
  • Keeping a progress chart where your child can place a sticker on every day they don’t suck their thumb. Give them incentives like prizes after completing a week or a month, and when the habit is overcome.
  • Noticing when your child is anxious and focusing on how to alleviate their anxiety instead of on their thumb sucking.
  • Taking note of when your child tends to suck their thumb and creating diversions in these situations.
  • Explaining what could happen if your child continues to suck their thumb.

If you have questions or concerns about thumb sucking, its side effects, or helping your child overcome the habit, please feel free to call or visit our office. We are pleased to help in any way.