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4 Rogers Street
Spring Hill, QLD, 4000

+61 7 3391 2504

Brisbane Dentist - excellence in general and aesthetic dentistry with Drs Amy Daley, Leila Haywood, UQ graduates with 20 years of experience in Spring Hill, Brisbane

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My child sucks their thumb. Is this a problem?

My child sucks their thumb. Is this a problem?

It's not uncommon for a child to suck his or her thumb, or their lip, or a finger, as a way to self-soothe or to help fall asleep.

Most children outgrow thumb sucking between 2 and 4 years old, which is the time when their first baby teeth fall out and permanent teeth appear. But it’s important to break a child out of a thumb-sucking habit before the permanent teeth start to arrive at the age of 4 years, in order to prevent problems with tooth alignment and development of the mouth.  

How intensely your child sucks his or her thumb can make a difference in the risk of problems with dental health later on. A child who sucks their thumb or finger aggressively is at greater risk for damaging teeth than a child who keeps a thumb or finger passively in the mouth.

But any type of thumb, finger, or lip sucking is a habit that should be broken. It’s not always easy, but it can be done. 

Catch them being good. Notice when the child is not sucking a thumb and praise him or her effusively, rather than scolding when the child is sucking their thumb.

Provide calmness and comfort. Some children suck a finger or thumb when they feel anxious. Try to determine any specific causes of anxiety for your child that might prompt thumb sucking, and address them.