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A Habit from Birth
Thumb-sucking comes naturally to children. It is a reflex. When babies suck on their thumbs, fingers, pacifiers, or other things, they feel happy and safe. This habit helps them to learn about the wide world around them. Your child sucks his or her thumb in order to calm themselves when sad or upset. Thumb-sucking also helps children fall asleep.

Potential Problems
Children usually stop sucking their thumb between the ages of two and four. Some children keep sucking their thumb as the adult teeth begin to come in and this can be a problem. Thumb-sucking can cause issues with the growth of your child’s mouth. This habit can also cause teeth to come in crooked. Buck teeth are a common result of prolonged thumb-sucking. Buck teeth and crooked teeth can cause confidence problems when your child is older. If your child just rests their thumb in their mouth, they are less likely to develop dental problems than if they suck their thumb vigorously.

Tips to Break the Habit
Reward your child when they don’t suck their thumb instead of punishing them when they do. Rewards will help your child’s self-esteem. Children who continue to suck their thumbs often have anxiety or self-esteem problems, so punishment and criticism may cause more harm than good. Focus on comforting your child and correcting the cause of their anxiety. Some parents put a bitter-tasting liquid on their child’s thumbnails or put mittens on their child before bed to discourage thumb-sucking. If these methods do not work, ask your child’s dentist for advice.