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Does your child suck their thumb? This is a perfectly normal and acceptable habit for infants and toddlers, but when does it need to end? Can sucking on a thumb really affect their teeth? The answer is yes, yes it can.

In your child’s infancy and toddler years, sucking on their thumb can be a source of comfort as they grow. However, when your child reaches 4 years old, you may want to begin discouraging thumb sucking behaviors. Frequently doing it could begin to affect their mouth as it develops and can lead to palate changes.

Often the habit will disappear on its own as your children age and they figure out the behavior is unacceptable. But if not, here are some ideas:
-Praise your child when they try to quit.
-Have a reward chart to track your child’s progress.
-If your child has an especially difficult time quitting, you may need to buy something to put on the thumb like a glove, bandage or something with an unpleasant taste.
– Make sure to use positive reinforcement with your child; anything else may cause your child stress and incite more thumb sucking behavior.
-Visit Dentistry For Kids for more tips on getting your child to quit thumb sucking.

At 5 or 6 years old, if your child is still exhibiting this behavior, the alignment of their teeth could be affected. Their front teeth may jut out, for instance. These changes can impact their secondary teeth as well. Our dentists can evaluate your child and may make a recommendation for further treatment.

If you live in the Huntersville, North Carolina, area and would have questions are would like to make an appointment with Dr. Kisha Steele Mitchell, please call us at 704-948-8494.