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My 3.5 year old has the habit of thumb sucking since he was an infant. Is it OK if he keeps the habit or is it bad for him in any way?

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    I thought this was a duplicate, but most existing questions about thumb-sucking are either "is this bad for an infant" or "how do I help my child quit". – Acire Oct 16 '15 at 20:12
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Hmm. My son asked me the same thing this week. I wrote him this.

"Most children should grow out of thumb sucking and pacifier use between the ages of 3 to 4. As long as the habit is discontinued well before their permanent teeth come in, your child should be fine." source http://www.dentistry.com/daily-dental-care/pediatric-dentistry/the-effects-of-thumb-sucking-and-pacifier-use-on-teeth

"The middle teeth are usually the first to go (at 6 to 7 years), followed by the ones on either side (at 7 to 8 years)." source http://www.babycenter.com/0_your-childs-teething-and-tooth-loss-timeline_10356447.bc

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I would suggest they go to the dentist to determine if harm is being done, otherwise, don't worry about it. It isn't always a problem.

My daughter sucked her thumb straight through to grade 2. Nothing we tried to stop her worked. Our dentist said that the way she sucked wasn't affecting her teeth. She never did need braces and has beautiful teeth. The sucking was a relaxation activity, and drove her teachers and the parents of other students crazy with worry that others would copy her, but it wasn't a problem for her. She also had lots of friends and got along very well at school. I'm not just saying this to counteract the previous poster's response. It is our real experience, and was contrary to any popularly help beliefs. I'd suggest to take him to the dentist to determine if a problem is developing. If it is, he needs to stop. If it isn't, he will stop when he has learned other means of relaxation.

  • "Is it OK if he keeps the habit or is it bad for him in any way?" An answer to this question should be more than just opinion. A source is needed. – anongoodnurse Oct 18 '15 at 6:20
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    The answer is in the response: the dentist said that the way she sucked wasn't affecting her teeth. I would suggest they go to the dentist to determine if harm is being done, otherwise, don't worry about it. It isn't always a problem. – Ruralife Oct 18 '15 at 6:40
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It can cause teeth to move in the wrong directions as they grow in, so in that respect I would say it needs to stop by the time permanent teeth start coming in or you may be looking at some pretty good dental expenses (braces). Aside from that, the biggest concerns would be getting teased for it once he starts pre-K or Kindergarten and chapping on his thumb from constantly being in a moist environment.

Hope that helps!

  • Of course, he might need braces anyways, but thumb sucking can make it much worse, and take much longer to fix. – user14172 Oct 16 '15 at 20:55
  • "Is it OK if he keeps the habit or is it bad for him in any way?" An answer to this question should be more than just opinion. A source is needed. – anongoodnurse Oct 18 '15 at 6:20
  • I could probably find multiple sources whose conclusions contradict each other. In other words, those sources are, for all intents and purposes, still just opinions. – Sean Henderson Oct 20 '15 at 17:19

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