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Why It Is Important That Your Child Stops Sucking Their Thumb

Babies have a natural reflex for sucking their thumbs that can even begin before birth. Because it can sometimes help children feel secure and safe, it can often develop into a habit. Most children will stop sucking their thumbs on their own, usually between the age of 2 and 4.

How Can Thumb Sucking Affect Children’s Oral Health?

Thumb sucking doesn’t usually become a problem until a child’s permanent teeth come in. According to the British Orthodontic Society, if the habit stops before the age of seven, the teeth will often correct themselves. However, evidence suggests that one in every eight children between the ages of seven and eleven have an extended habit. If the habit continues once permanent teeth are visible, their position can be permanently affected and self correction is less likely to occur. At this point, thumb sucking might start to affect your child’s palate (roof of their mouth) and how the teeth line up. Problems that can occur include crossbite, an anterior open bite, misshapen palate and difficulty with eating.

What Can I Do to Encourage My Child To Stop Sucking Their Thumb?

Reward your child! Give them praise or offer them small rewards such as a trip to the park or an extra bedtime story. Set them goals such as going a week without sucking their thumb, mark the days off on a calendar using stickers so your child can visualise their achievement.

Identify what is causing them to suck their thumb. Some children will turn to the habit when they are stressed. Recognise the issue and offer them comfort in other ways, such as reassuring words or a hug.

Some children will suck their thumb without thought. Gently remind them to stop but don’t criticise them when doing so.

If you are concerned about your child’s habit and feel that it is negatively affecting their oral health, ask your dentist to speak to them at their next appointment. Some children may appreciate hearing the advice from someone other than their parents, who can offer guidance and explain how it can affect their mouth in a way they can fully understand.

If you require any further guidance, don’t hesitate to contact us at

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