Dr. Greenberg Talks Thumb Sucking

Along with favorite blankets, teddy bears, and nap time, thumb-sucking can be one of the most comforting aspects of childhood. According to a recent report, between 75% and 95% of infants suck their thumbs, so chances are there’s a thumb-sucker (or a former thumb-sucker) in your family. Is this cause for worry? Dr. Greenberg tells all.

In most cases, no. However, it’s important to pay attention to your child’s habits, in case his behavior has the potential to affect his oral health.

What Is Normal Thumb-Sucking Behavior?

The majority of children suck a thumb or a finger from a very young age; some even start inside the womb. Sucking is a natural reflex for an infant, and it serves an important purpose. Sucking often provides a sense of security and contentment for a young one.It can also be relaxing, which is why many children suck their thumbs as they fall asleep.

According to the American Dental Association, most children stop thumb-sucking on their own between the ages of two and four. They simply grow out of a habit that is no longer useful to them.

However, some children continue sucking beyond the preschool years (although studies show that the older a child gets, the lower his chances of continuing to suck his thumb). If your child is still sucking when his permanent teeth start to erupt, it may be time to take action to break the habit.

What Signs Should I Watch For?

First, take note of how your child sucks his thumb. If he sucks passively, with his thumb gently resting inside his mouth, he is less likely to cause damage. If, on the other hand, he is an aggressive thumb-sucker, placing pressure on his mouth or teeth, the habit may cause problems with tooth alignment and proper mouth growth. Extended sucking may lead to a need for orthodontic treatment in the future.

If at any time you suspect your child’s thumb-sucking may be affecting his oral health, please give us a call at Greenberg Orthodontics or bring him in for a visit. We can help you assess the situation.

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