Dr. Sue Hollinsworth

When should thumbsucking stop?

It's a natural reflex for babies to suck. As young children, they may suck on their thumb,pacifier, or other object because it gives them a sense of security and is soothing. Children gradually stop sucking  over time and usually  stop by the time they start school. If they haven't stopped by then, peer pressure will often be the final push. Prolonged sucking can cause problems with the proper growth and development of the palate(or roof of the mouth) and the position of the teeth. This will often show up as an open bite or space between the upper and lower front teeth when the child bites together or as a large space between the edges of the upper and lower teeth(like buck teeth). If a child has not stopped thumb sucking by the time the front upper teeth are starting to erupt (7-9 years old), then an appliance may need to be used to keep their thumbs out.