Sucking on a thumb or finger is normal for infants and young children and most children stop on their own. However, if a child doesn’t stop on their own, we do advise parents to discourage the habit ideally after age 3. Prolonged thumb sucking can lead to crooked teeth and bite problems affecting both baby teeth and permanent teeth that are developing, causing upper front teeth to tip outward and upper jaw to narrow in the back.
Be sure to use a positive approach and focus on praising your child when they are not thumb sucking. Initially, you could try limiting the time and location thumb sucking occurs, for example only at home or only while the child is in their bedroom to help them ease out of the habit. Be sure to speak with your pediatric dentist about specific tips to help your child stop her thumb sucking habit. Your pediatric dentist can offer advice and make recommendations based on your child’s demeanor and explain the effects on teeth to your child in an appropriate manner during your regular check-ups. Often, this advice, along with support from parents, enables many children to quit.