Pediatrics - Thumb Sucking 

Introduction
Thumb sucking is a natural reflex for babies.  They may suck on their thumb, pacifier, or other objects to relax, induce sleep, explore their world, or for security.  Youngsters usually stop thumb sucking between the ages of two and four years old.  Some children may continue to suck their thumbs past this period.

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Symptoms
Thumb sucking can cause dental and skeletal problems if it persists after the permanent front teeth are ready to come in.  Thumb sucking can affect the way the mouth grows.  It can influence jaw formation and alter bite patterns.  Thumb sucking can cause the front teeth to come in crooked.  Prolonged sucking on a pacifier or other objects can cause the same problems.

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Diagnosis
Your dentist can determine if thumb sucking is influencing your child’s jaw, bite, or tooth formation by examining your child’s mouth. 

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Treatment
If your child is old enough to understand, your dentist can talk to your child about the affects of thumb sucking.  Your dentist is happy to encourage your child to stop.  Over-the-counter solutions and mechanical devices can be of help.

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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on April 13th, 2016. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit www.iHealthSpot.com.