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Tips to Break the Thumb Sucking Habit

Children are born with a natural sucking reflex that often evolves into a comfort behavior. It is not at all unusual for an infant or child to find a thumb or finger to calm them when tired or upset as a coping mechanism.

Ultrasound scans have revealed that thumb sucking can start before birth, as early as 15 weeks from conception. Even though a sucking reflex disappears at about four months of age, some infants will continue to suck their thumb or fingers as a voluntary habit to soothe them. You must take proper measures to stop thumb sucking habit among your child.

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It helps provide a sense of security and relaxes children as they fall asleep. Thumb sucking can be one of the most comforting aspects of childhood. According to the American Dental Association, most kids stop sucking their thumbs on their own by the ages of 2 – 4 with little if any damage as a result.

The most obvious consequences of a persistent thumb or finger habit are:

• Pushing the upper front teeth (incisors) out and the lower incisors in… resulting in the “Bucky Beaver” smile.

• Preventing the front teeth from erupting all the way together causing an open bite.

• Stopping the lower jaw from developing normally, resulting in a recessive or “weak” chin.

• Narrowing of the soft tissue in the palate of the mouth, resulting in a cross bite.

If a child doesn’t eventually stop sucking their thumbs on their own, an orthodontist can install appliances that take away the pleasing sensation children get when sucking their thumbs.

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