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Babies are born with a reflex to suck any object placed in their mouth. This behavior helps during the first few months of establishing feeding and usually disappears at around 4 months.
Thumb sucking however, is not reflexive, and is believed to be a self-soothing practice. There are usually no ill effects from thumb sucking in early childhood, and most children naturally give up the habit somewhere between 2-4 years of age. If thumb sucking continues past the age of 7 when adult teeth are coming through there can be misalignment of front teeth, or possibly jaw problems.
- Teeth being pushed around, which might cause an overbite or an underbite to form
- A lisp being formed because constant thumb sucking can affect the jaw bone positioning
- Germs from your thumb and surrounding areas affecting your body
- The roof of the mouth becoming altered or more sensitive
It is important to be careful when breaking this habit. Children often use thumb sucking as an emotional crutch. When your child sucks their thumb, distract them with something else. Try teaching your child the reasons why they shouldn't continue to suck their thumbs. And do your best not to nag or punish them for sucking their thumbs as that may create stress, in turn, giving your child reason to suck their thumbs more.
If you notice any alternations to your child’s teeth due to their thumb sucking, give us a call today! We’d be happy to help you and answer any questions you may have.