Thumb Sucking Habit in Children

Why Do Children Suck On Fingers, Pacifiers Or Other Objects?

This type of sucking  (Non-Nutritive Sucking) is completely normal for babies and young children. It provides them a sense of security, also enabling them to cope with stress and induce sleep. For young babies, it is a way to make contact with and learn about the world.  Some babies begin to suck on their thumb even before they are born.

Thumb sucking habits

Is This Habit Bad For The Teeth And Jaws?

Most children stop sucking on thumbs, pacifiers or other objects on their own between 2 and 4 years of age. However, some children continue with this habit even after the Permanent front teeth have erupted. The risks associated with thumb-sucking are dependent upon its frequency, intensity, duration, and position in which the digit is placed in the mouth. In these children, the upper front teeth may tip towards the upper lip. This habit being frequent or intense over a prolonged period of time can affect the way the child’s teeth bite together, as well as the growth of the jaws and bones that support the teeth.  Callus formation, Irritation Eczema, Paronychia, Herpetic Whitlow, Digital Deformations, and increased chance of poison ingestion are all potential Nondental  Complications associated with thumb-sucking.

Regardless of the aforementioned risks associated with chronic thumb-sucking, it is very important that the parent maintains a sympathetic, patient, and understanding attitude towards the child. Parental nagging, threats, and criticism can actually worsen the problem rather than improve it. Any attempts to cease the habit before the age of 2 years can create neurotic symptoms and personality problems.

When Would This Habit Be A Cause Of Concern For Parents?

 As persistent habits may cause long-term problems, children should have ceased the habit by the time the permanent front teeth are ready to erupt. Vigorous thumb sucking may also cause problems with baby teeth. If changes in the baby teeth are observed, the Pediatric Dentist in Delhi Should be consulted.

The official recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) is children stop their Non-Nutritive Sucking Habits by 3 years of age. Discontinuing these habits earlier rather than later allows the mouth a better opportunity to re-align itself before permanent teeth begin to emerge. If the child stops early enough, many of the issues with his or her bite may fix themselves. If the habits, however, continue as the permanent teeth begin to surface through the gums, many of the adult teeth will display the same effects of the non-nutritive sucking as the primary teeth.

Are Pacifiers A Safer Option For The Teeth Than Sucking On Thumb or Finger?

Thumb, Finger and Pacifier Sucking affect the teeth and jaws in essentially the same way. However, a pacifier habit often is easier to break.