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When a young child finds something on the ground, what do they do? They put it in their mouth of course. Kids like to put things in their mouth and suck on them, whether it is something they pick up, a pacifier, or their thumb and fingers. As an infant and toddler, thumb-sucking should cause no harm. But if it is done vigorously or if the child is older, then thumb-sucking can negatively affect tooth formation.

Effects of Thumb-Sucking

A child’s mouth is in a constant state of change. First they get baby teeth, then they lose them, and then they get permanent teeth as the mouth continues to grow. This is why thumb-sucking, especially the vigorous kind, is so bad. A child’s teeth can grow in irregularly and the roof of their mouth can even be affected, changing shape as it grows.

Ways to Stop Thumb-Sucking

  • Since children often suck their thumbs to help them fall asleep, that is one area you can focus on. Your dentist may recommend the wear of a mouth appliance or putting a bitter medicine on your child’s thumb when they sleep.
  • Children sometimes suck their thumb to help them feel secure. Discover what is making them feel so anxious in order to help out. Don’t forget to give your child extra comfort and love.
  • Get your child’s support to help stop their thumb-sucking habit. Encourage them to stop, and praise them when they do.
  • Have your dentist explain to your child why sucking their thumb can be so bad for their teeth. Encouragement and explanation from outside the family sphere can sometimes have more influence.