The sucking reflex is normal and healthy in babies. However, a thumb or finger sucking habit can cause problems with the growth of the mouth and jaw, and position of teeth, if it continues after permanent teeth have erupted, between four and seven years of age.
Despite popular belief, young children who obsessively suck their thumbs will generally not develop dental problems due to the thumb sucking. However, if they continue to suck their thumbs when their second teeth start growing in, there’s a risk for developing dental abnormalities.
It’s very normal for older babies to suck their thumbs. In fact, this practice is considered normal until children reach 2 1/2 years.
One factor that determines whether a child will have dental problems is the intensity with which she sucks her thumb.
A child who just rests her thumb in her mouth or passively sucks on it is less likely to develop problems than a child who sucks her thumb in earnest. Parents whose children are vigorous thumb suckers should pay attention to any changes in their child’s primary teeth and consult a dentist if any are noted.
Tags: thumb sucking
Thumb sucking is a perfectly acceptable way for your child to comfort himself, at bedtime or any other time – although it can lead to dental problems in older children.
Thumb sucking is a way for a toddler to soothe himself, not only when he’s sleepy but also at other times of the day.
Tags: sleep, thumb sucking