Thumb and Finger Sucking

Most people know a little thumb or finger sucker.  Maybe you were one yourself as a child? 

It’s a habit that can go from being quite cute, (and even a blessing as your crying baby comforts themselves with their thumb) to becoming a source of worry and frustration if it persists beyond toddler-hood.  The stimulation, or sensory input, that thumb and finger suckers get when they suck becomes an addiction as the brain is flooded with dopamine, endorphins and serotonin – happy hormones. 

Digit sucking is a completely normal oral habit that many babies and toddlers partake in as they grow and seek out sensory input.   Unfortunately, if it persists beyond about 3yrs old we often start to see changes in jaw development and teeth position as the thumb/fingers and sucking muscles ‘sculpt’ the developing facial bones into a less than ideal shape. 

Many little digit suckers will stop sucking in their own time.  But what if they don’t? 

Current research shows us that there is often an underlying reason that kids keep sucking thumbs and fingers beyond 3 years of age.  This can range from sleep and airway issues (like large tonsils/adenoids that block adequate breathing), reflux, anxiety, and physical restrictions like tongue ties and narrow high palates or small mandibles. 

If you have a child who is still sucking their thumb and finding it hard to give up, it may be useful to speak to a professional who is trained in the specifics of quitting this habit.  Once the root causes are addressed you will be surprised at how quickly and confidently your child can quit their habit. 

Luckily for you, here at Withers Dental we have Carly Oliver (Orofacial Myofunctional Therapist) who will be able to talk you through the steps to help your little digit sucker to rid the habit! Carly runs a Thumb Sucking Quit Program for all ages, this program is tailored to individual needs and has proven very successful.

Read more information here

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