Thumb Sucking

Thumb Sucking

What is Thumb Sucking?

There are long-term effects related to thumb sucking past the age of five. Myofunctional therapy can help.

Thumb sucking is considered a normal, common habit among babies and toddlers.  There are several reasons why a child may suck their thumb or finger.  These include being tired,scared, sick or stressed. Although this habit is comforting and calming, if not corrected by the age of 4, it can become a real serious problem.

Why is it a Concern?

If thumb sucking continues past the age of four, or after permanent teeth have erupted, developmental consequences of the face, jaw, teeth, and speech can ensue.  Digit sucking can speed up the growth of the upper jaw, slow down the growth of the lower jaw and cause improper alignment of the teeth.  In addition, constant pressure by the thumb or fingers can cause a high narrow palate, early loss of baby teeth, abnormal swallowing patterns, and improper tongue position.

How Can it be Corrected?

A theory that has proven at least 90 percent effective is known as behavioral modification.  Rather than using an appliance (negative reinforcement) to rid a person of the thumb or finger sucking habit, positive reinforcement establishes self-esteem and a sense of accomplishment.  In a sense, the therapy creates self-satisfaction to replace the thumb or finger sucking desire.

Once the habit is gone, the child gains many benefits such as an improved appearance,  an ability to speak more clearly and better dental health.  In breaking the unwanted habit, the child will also receive a boost in self-confidence.   According to Lawrence Kutner’s article, Parent & Child, children usually require the desire to quit, and even then, it will take about 30 to 60 days to let go of the urge to suck.


Thumb Sucking  Elimination Program!

This program utilizes a reward system involving praise, positive reinforcement, charts, stickers, and small prizes.   Most kids are successful after their first week, and become very proud of themselves (as they should).