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You are here : home > Raising Children > Behavioral Problems > Thumb Sucking

Thumb Sucking

Does your child still suck her thumb? While this habit usually goes as your child grows older, it's best to nip it in the bud.   

Nandita is a 32 year old woman. She has a good job, is married, and has one child. She's a friendly woman, seems confident, is successful, and is happy. But Nandita has one strange habit. She still sucks her thumb. Every time things aren't going the way she would like them to, or if she's worried, tense or confused, her thumb finds its way to her mouth. Be it in the security of her bed or at a board meeting, this habit doesn't go away. Her colleagues mock her, and she's frequently the butt of jokes. Of course, she's taken it all in her stride and she probably won't change now, but she's sure of one thing. This is one habit she's not going to let her daughter develop.

You needn't worry too much about thumb sucking as most children do kick the habit before the age of 5. But if your child is past the age of 6 and still shows no sign of reducing her thumb sucking, there may be a slight cause for concern. This this will almost definitely have an effect on her permanent teeth, so if you manage to get her to stop much before this age, there's nothing like it. In fact, some schools of thought are of the opinion that thumb sucking should be stopped as early as possible. 

You should consult your dentist, and let your dentist have a word with your child. 
 

A person's teeth - and facial features for that matter - develop the most when the person is between the ages of 4 and 14. Dental structures start getting formed from the age of 5, as this is when the permanent teeth slowly start appearing. Now if your child is still sucking her thumb, she is interfering with the natural growth of her teeth. 
 

An Overbite

Your child is almost certain to develop an overbite, which is when the upper row of teeth juts out over the lower layer of teeth. She may even develop Bugs Bunny teeth, where her front two teeth jut out prominently. 
 

Lisp

A poor alignment of teeth will almost certainly lead to some speech disorders, and could lead to a lisp. Even if she has braces later on in life, the habit of lisping might never go. 

To test the extent of damage caused by thumb sucking, a dental group studied around 400 babies in Iowa, United Stated, until the age of four. 
The researchers regularly questioned the parents about their children's thumb sucking habits. After the age of four, models were made of the children's teeth. 

Needless to say, the teeth of those kids who stopped sucking their thumb before they turned one, were in pretty good shape. Damage to the teeth increased amongst approximately 6% of the kids who stopped sucking their thumb by the age of 2. Crossbite and overbite were more prevalent by 13 percent amongst those kids who stopped thumb sucking between the ages of 2 and 3, and this figure increased to 20 percent, in the group of kids who were still sucking their thumbs. 

While most of this damage is caused to the child's baby teeth, there is a chance that it will affect the permanent teeth as well - especially if the child continues sucking her thumb after the age of six. 

Thus, this is one habit which is best nipped in the bud.
 
 

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27 Comments
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geeta.3 months ago
Try cotton thumbguards....cost effective and easy solution. can find it on olx/quikr too in India
 
 
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Necole.4 years ago
i'm 16 years old and deperatly trying to kick the habit. i don't know what to do i mean i've been sucking my thumb since i can remember. heres the thing i want to stop but i can't i don't htink i can go a day with out it. it comforts me and it taste good and i wold probably go through withdrawal trying to stop.
 
 
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tom.4 years ago
necole,i so understand what you mean. about the only thing i could suggest is during the day when you usually suck,maybe try going a little while not sucking. but i know for me i do it without thinking. but good luck!
 
 
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about 2 years ago i learned that my uncle who i was very close to killed him self, and it was really hard for me. well after learning this for some reason, i dont know why i picked up thumbsucking again. i had stopped sucking my thumb when i was 11 years old and this happen when i was 15, i am now 17 and still sucking my thumb, i have no idea why i started up again and i just dont know what to do,i want to stop but it helps me so much...is this bad???
 
 
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Bob.4 years ago
this is in reply to "need some advice." thumbsucking is simple yet complex, and it's been said that sometimes your thumb represents someone or something which is missing in your life. (i know that's kind of hard to understand.) as such, your thumb probably represents your uncle in some fashion and you're probably self-soothing yourself, s you did as a child.

if you want to stop sucking your thumb, i would seek-out a grief counselor and work through the issues of your uncle's death and then find another way to sooth yourself and use that method as a replacement for your thumb. if you want to keep sucking your thumb, that's totally up to you, as it's not hurting anyone.
 
 
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Helper.4 years ago
natalie, first of all, i know this is none of my business, but you are way too young to be sleeping with your boyfriend. i'm sure you are not going to pay attention to what i just said but beleive me, i have my reasons to say what i do. after all, i'm only fifteen too. second of all, if you want to stop sucking your thumb, you could try doing something else at night that is soothing. try breathing deeply, and letting that breath be the most comforting thing to you. let it fill you and calm you.
 
 
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ograma.4 years ago
hi --- my niece sucks her thumb, her teeth are sticking out and changing the shape of her mouth. how/why do drs. say it is okay to keep on sucking? i personally think the shape starts to look abnormal. i know some of you are happy/proud to be a thumbsucker, so please forgive my comments. i just don't think it looks cute or see anything attractive about it! has anyone seen a psychologist or seeked help for their habit? i'm just curious what they (psychs) say about the situation. take care and good luck to those of you trying to stop.
 
 
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Kev.4 years ago
i'm a 22 year old thumbsucker and i don't give a hoot what others think of me. yeh, try and stop your kids from doing it, but the need will still be there. all you're doing is conditioning kids to a way that society accepts. the world is scary, its big and i'm small and unimportant, i get freaked out and it makes me feel better. i don't want to quit, i'm not hurting anyone, am i? what about comfort food, is that acceptable?
 
 
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Emily.4 years ago
hi, i just thought i'd tell "some advice please" that, no it's not weird, sure, it may be a little awkward around some people, but that feeling will pass in time. i've been doing it for all tirteen years of my life, and i'm just fine. fyi, helper, not trying to sound rude, but, what does being too young to sleep with your boyfriend have to do with this topic of conversation, and, who in the world is natalie? i found no such name on any of these posts.
 
 
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Farnum.4 years ago
8/13/06. suggestion: everyone who posts here should write in the date so there is a timeline of all posts from here on.
 
 
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