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Thumb Sucking—A Most Common Habit

Little Baby Sucking Their ThumbWhat’s the most common thing nearly half of American toddlers do when they’re tired, relaxing, sleeping or being scolded? They suck their thumbs!

Thumb-sucking is the earliest and most common habit among children. It’s nothing for parents to worry about—unless the habit persists. Only after age four does thumb-sucking threaten to damage children’s teeth

Some thumb-suckers simply rest the thumb in the mouth, sucking only at certain times. Others work at the habit, and can displace teeth severely. If, when you remove the thumb from your child’s mouth you hear a “popping,” it signals a great deal of pressure on the teeth that may cause an overbite or underbite. If the child is over four, you may want to discuss the habit with an orthodontist.

To help break a child of thumb-sucking, parents should:

  • Avoid punishing the child
  • Provide play materials to occupy the child’s hands
  • Keep supervision to a minimum
  • Keep the home environment happy

One of the worst approaches is parental pressure—it can have a negative effect. On the other hand, peer pressure often works well, encouraging the child to imitate “grown-up” behavior.

Sometimes an orthodontic appliance can prevent or replace a thumb-sucking habit. Once a child becomes accustomed to the appliance, he or see may no longer interested in thumb-sucking.

The first step is to determine when and why a child is thumb-sucking. We’ve had lots of experience. Give us a call—we may be able to help.

About Binu Thomas, DDS

As the head of a boutique, patient focused practice in the heart of Orangevale, Dr. Binu Thomas has been practicing general dentistry for over 20 years. He graduated in the top of his class at dental school, and took advanced training in preventative pediatric dentistry. Over the years, he has trained under some of the best known cosmetic dentists in the nation. He has further advanced his skills and knowledge in endodontics (root canal), cosmetic dentistry, and oral surgery. His efficient, attentive services lead patients to feel well cared-for, no matter their dental needs. His professional team will show you the respect and attention you deserve from the moment you schedule your first appointment. Dr. Thomas has been married for over 20 years to his beautiful wife Aveena, and they have two wonderful children, Joshua and Ariyana. Dr. Thomas is very involved in his community and helps out at the local church, food closet and more.

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