Thumb-sucking is a common habit in children. Natural instinct to suck your finger, sometimes developed during intrauterine period, disappears in time, from the age of 6 months. Some children learn to give up the habit even around the age of 5-6 years. This action has a calming effect on the child, whether it is meant to relieve hunger whenever the baby is expecting bottle or as a need to calm down when he is sleepy or fussy. The gesture, however, supplements the maternal affection and safety that the baby feels during breastfeeding.


After thumb-sucking, the most common complication is vestibularization of the upper teeth because the child places his thumb over the tongue, pulling out the upper teeth and pushing inwards the lower ones.

Overall experience:

Dental problems such as abnormal positioning of the teeth, pushing them outward, palatal deflection, affections that involve parent’s collaboration with an orthodontist that can treat these ailments and keep them under observation since their earliest stages.

Speech problems: poor spelling, with stammering tongue positioning or outwards in the pronunciation of words

Emotional problems: once the habit becomes involuntary, the child can do it when he is in the classroom, or outside in the presence of other children and they can laugh at him, in the presence of adults or parents and they may argue the children, creating them anxiety.

If this habit continues after the age of 5 years it is needed a dental examination having the aim to identify dental, jaw or gum irregularities. It’s also assessed the pronunciation and speech, because this habit is severe and may be followed by emotional or behavioral disorders, which leads to a psychological checkup.

To support the child in quitting this habit is recommended to:

pay attention to the child;

Gradually move away from the child objects associated with sucking, initially short periods during the day;

distract child’s attention from his involvement in this habit through various activities;

establish active roles for the child;

Consult a specialist that may indicate some devices that can be placed on palate in order to decrease the pleasure of sucking child’s finger;

Parent’s acknowledge of the consequences that thumb-sucking has over oral health;

apply a system of prizes or rewards;

apply different solutions with unpleasant taste on child’s fingers, or to put gloves on his hands to prevent him from thumb-sucking;

Not recommended:

To remove the finger from child’s mouth when the baby is awake, this can only be done when the child is asleep;

punishing the child and using offensive language. The parent must take a calm, neutral position, without judging the child when this habit is being discussed;

Do not allow others people laugh of the child’s habit.

If the therapy applied by parents is unsuccessful, it is recommended to ask a specialist’s help that can direct further therapy.

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