Thumb Sucking

Thumb Sucking Kawana, Sunshine Coast

Our mission is to change kid’s lives on the Sunshine Coast one little smile at a time.

This may seem like a hyperbolic statement but here at Lake View Dental, we strongly believe that we can make a difference in how our child patients fit into modern society.

It’s important when talking about thumb sucking, not to forget to mention all other forms of non-nutritive sucking. Different forms of non-nutritive sucking include finger sucking, extended dummy sucking, and blanket “blanky” sucking. It can be beneficial to establish this form prior to booking for a formal assessment.

Why is thumb-sucking a problem?

It depends on the age of the patient, the force of the object applied in the mouth, the duration and position of the force, and when it happens.

It is safe to say that not all forms on non-nutritive sucking are bad. We start developing our mouth movement ability in the womb by inserting our thumb at around 24 weeks gestation. Sucking also helps babies to develop some of the facial bones and the dental arches, as well as the muscles surrounding that assist with sucking.

Sucking is a normal habit for the first 2 to 4 years of life, and at Lake View Dental being an Airway Centric associate, we like to also conduct a formal assessment around 1-2 years of age to see if the airway may be part of the picture.

When should my child stop?

There may be some negative effects on some forms of sucking and these include a wide range of dental, oral and facial problems if this habit continues for a long time.

We would advise around the age of 5 years is a good time for a child to stop. The earlier a child stops naturally, the better.

Does thumb sucking come down to emotional problems?

Sometimes children may have emotional issues or problems with anxiety, however, there is normally more to thumb sucking than just emotions.

We look at both the physiological and psychological influences in the sucking and these include aspects like gut biome, airways, development, sleep, mimicry and the addictive aspect of sucking.

Will my child stop thumb sucking on their own and naturally grow out of it?

It is true that normally the sucking habit will decline with age, however, adults with sucking habits are more common than people think. Most adults are very good at hiding the habit and it is used as an emotional crutch or as an aid in relaxation.

We favour a non-draconian approach to the cessation of the non-nutritive sucking habit and wish to identify and address the underlying problems that contribute to the habit.

We suggest that we assess the habit on those older than 12 months. We rarely treat the habit before 4-5 years but we may be able to see if there are underlying airway problems and deal with these.

Sometimes just having peace of mind that it is a normal progression and armed with some tools to gently ease the child out of the habits is good enough.

Book your appointment today

At Lake View Dental, we want you to maintain the best oral health hygiene routine possible. If you have any further questions about the treatments we offer, contact us today, or book an appointment with one of our talented team members.