Thumb and finger sucking is normal in children under the age of 4, and most children will stop sucking on their own between 2-4 years of age. However, if this habit persists it can cause significant damage to the teeth and jaw, including open bites, horizontal overlap of the front teeth and crossbites. Likewise, the constant pressure of the tongue against the teeth when swallowing, speaking and when the tongue is at rest can force teeth and arches out of alignment.
There are many oral appliances available to help break finger sucking and tongue thrusting habits. While thumb sucking appliances work to simply discourage sucking habits, tongue thrust appliances usually involve a type of “physical therapy” that helps retrain the muscles of the tongue so that it no longer thrusts forward. When you bring your child to our office, our dentist will work with you both to help break these harmful habits so that your child can enjoy good oral health and a beautiful smile.
In addition to oral appliances, our dentist may also recommend simple things that you can try at home, such as putting an article of clothing (like a glove or a sock) over the thumb and fingers or creating diversions at times when your child usually sucks his or her fingers. Your child may also suck his or her fingers due to anxiety and may stop if the source of this anxiety is found and soothed.
For more information and to schedule a consultation with our dentist, please contact our office today.