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Thumb & Finger sucking in Children


Structures of the mouth, facial growth and development can change with thumb sucking. Nourishment is the main reason that children suck their thumbs. Children are born with a suckling effect due to natural feeling of the mother at birth. Endorphins are produced by sucking which produces pleasure for the child. Soon in early infancy children soon transfer this sucking to other behavior patterns, like toes, thumb and finger which give the same pleasure.

Why do children suck their thumbs? By sucking their thumbs, they sooth distress, illness or fatigue. Eventually, forming a habit of sucking.

When should You become involved? Children start between the age of four and six, when the eruption of their permanent teeth begin. If the child continues after the teeth erupt, normal growth and development of skeletal bones, facial muscles and the nasal cavity can be altered. The roof of the mouth can change to the shape of the thumb if thumb sucking continues for a long time. Tooth alignment, lip structure, tooth structure, finger growth, speech, breathing and swallowing functions can be altered. A two finger sucker is the worst type and cause the most damage to the mouth structures.

The treatment for thumb sucking could be a dental appliance that is bonded directly to the teeth by our office. Some of the appliance can be designed to have extensions that act as a deterrent when a thumb is placed into the mouth. It is not uncommon to have approximately 80 to 90% of thumb suckers to have orthodontic treatment.