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A child sucking on their thumb or a dummy is a very natural part of their development and is often seen in the womb before birth. Often babies find comfort in the habit and it forms part of their sleeping routine. Of course once permanent teeth arrive thumb sucking can cause problems. It is recommended to discourage thumb sucking from the age of about 3 to 4. As an infant gets older sucking on their thumb can cause misalignment in their jaw and tooth development which in turn can cause problems when they are older, from overcrowding to bite issues. Of course passive thumb sucking, where the thumb rests in the mouth is far less likely to have an impact than a more active approach and so this needs to be taken into consideration when addressing the habit. Most children will naturally stop sucking their thumb as they get older however the problem can sometimes persist longer that is healthy. Here are some ways to encourage children away from their thumbs:

  • Move across to a dummy. This is still not ideal but a dummy will be easier to take away in the long term, you can’t remove a thumb!
  • A reward chart
  • Try to figure out when thumb sucking is at its peak and put in place distractions to avoid it, like a soft toy or wooden block
  • Come and see us, it is never too early to pop in and get advice from our dentists to ensure your children’s teeth develop in the healthiest way possible

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