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Thumb sucking


This week I will discuss thumb sucking, which is defined as placement of the thumb or one or more fingers in varying depths into the mouth. Some children, instead of sucking the thumb, have the habit of finger sucking. The thumb sucking habit is considered normal in pre-school children, but it is considered abnormal when the child continues with the habit even after the pre-school age. {{more}} Then this habit is called a pernicious thumb sucking habit. Pernicious means this habit interferes with the normal development of the orofacial structure. The front teeth start coming out. The upper arch becomes narrow and the child may develop open bite.

How much a particular habit can affect the dento facial structure depends upon three factors:

Duration: i.e. for how long this habit is practised.

Intensity: i.e. how intensely this habit is practised. In case of thumb sucking, some children suck the thumb very vigorously, but some children just keep the thumb in the mouth and do not suck it. The habit becomes more harmful if the child sucks the thumb intensely.

Frequency: i.e. how often the particular habit is practised. Some suck the thumb only at night, while others do it whenever they are free. With increased frequency, the habit becomes more harmful.

Causes of thumb sucking:

1. Psychological: It is said that the child starts thumb sucking because he feel insecure, lonely or stressed. There is some underlying psychological reason for this act.

2. Habitual: Sometimes it is just the habit. Maybe initially there is some reason, but afterwards it just becomes the habit to suck the thumb.

Effects of thumb sucking:

1. Upper front teeth proclination (forward tilt) and lower front teeth retroclination (backward tilt)

– When a child places a thumb or fingers between the teeth, it presses on the lower and upper incisors.

2. Anterior open bite:-this occurs when:

– the finger interferes with the incisors erupting (growing out)

– excessive eruption of the back teeth, due to separation of the jaws during thumb sucking.

Dr Keith John

Email:[email protected]

Clinic: SVG Dental Corporation

Telephone: 784-456-2220

Cell: 784-526-0752