Our Santa Ana kid’s dentist has shown that kids basically suck their thumbs because it’s calming and comforting. Your preschooler most likely practiced this habit while still in the womb and perfected it as an infant. Now, your child resorts to thumb sucking when tired, scared, sick, bored, or trying to adjust to challenges such as starting daycare or preschool. Thumb sucking may also be used to aid in falling asleep at bedtime, and to be lulled back to sleep if woken up in the middle of the night.
The American Dental Association states that most children can safely suck their thumb until their permanent teeth begin to appear, without damaging the alignment of teeth or jaws. Permanent teeth don’t usually start to erupt until around 6 years of age. Our Santa Ana kid’s dentist also wants you to be aware that not all thumb-sucking is equally damaging. Experts say it’s the intensity of the sucking and the tongue’s thrust that will deform teeth and make braces necessary later on. Kids who merely rest their thumbs passively in their mouths are less likely to have dental problems than children who suck aggressively. We suggest that you observe your child’s technique, and if they suck vigorously, you may want to begin curbing the habit earlier, perhaps around age 4. If you notice any changes in their mouth or teeth, or if you’re not sure if your child’s thumb-sucking is causing problems, consult our Santa Ana kid’s dentist.
If your child’s thumb becomes red and chapped from sucking, try putting on a moisturizer while they are sleeping. During the night is a better idea because if you apply it when they are awake, it will more than likely, just end up in her mouth. Most children stop thumb-sucking on their own between the ages of 2 and 4, but some continue the habit longer, but peer pressure in school is often quite effective as a deterrent. Children usually give up thumb-sucking when they find other ways to calm and comfort themselves. For instance, if your child tends to suck their thumb when they are hungry, our Santa Ana kid’s dentist explains that they will soon learn to simply open the fridge and look for something to eat, or ask for a snack instead.