Thumb and Finger Sucking

Thumb Sucking

It is often a source of concern for parents to watch their child habitually suck their finger or thumb. There are some facts that will help you better understand this habit:

  • Thumb sucking during infancy is considered normal.
  • Thumb or finger sucking, before the age of five does not do permanent damage to the teeth or jaws.
  • Most children want to give up the habit between 2 and 4 years of age.
  • The ideal time to break the habit is when permanent upper and lower teeth are coming into place, usually around 6-7 years old.
  • However, some children repeatedly suck on a thumb, finger, pacifier or other object over long periods of time. In these children, the permanent teeth do not come in properly resulting in crowding, spacing, "buck teeth" and other bite problems.
Finger Sucking

Dr. Newhart prefers a gentle approach to correcting this habit. A small "Habit Corrector" is placed behind the teeth and covers the area where that child likes to place his or her finger. The habit is broken by disturbing the sucking action that occurs when the finger or thumb is allowed to touch the soft tissue of the palate. It takes a few weeks to a few months to correct most habits. This treatment is comfortable and children adapt very well to it.

Resulting Bite Problem

Dr. Newhart's philosophy is never to punish, but to assist the child in solving the problem...which most of them want to do anyway. This approach is a conservative way to allow the dental arches to take on a more normal growth pattern, help assure the success of future orthodontics, and help alleviate a social problem for the concerned child and parent.