Thumbsucking: Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down?


Infants and young children may feel more secure when they can suck their thumbs, fingers or a pacifier but is it really the best habit for them? Thumbsucking can be a source of relaxation and help induce sleep in your child, but when teeth start to erupt it can cause trouble. Learn the ‘thumbs up’  and ‘thumbs down’ of thumbsucking!

Thumbs Up!

  • Its a natural reflex for infants and young children.
  • Sucking on thumbs, fingers, pacifiers and other objects can be a source of comfort for your child.
  • Pacifiers in moderation are easier to stop than thumb or finger sucking.
  • It provides feelings of happiness and security, especially during difficult periods.
  • Because thumbsucking is relaxing it helps induce sleep.
  • Children usually stop between the ages of 2-4.

Thumbs Down!

  • Thumbsucking beyond primary tooth eruptions can cause dental problems.
  • The intensity and positioning of thumbsucking can determine whether dental problems may develop.
  • Pacifiers can affect teeth the same way thumbs or fingers can.
  • Thumbsucking beyond school age may have negative responses from peers.

Children who suck their thumbs are oftentimes feeling insecure. Addressing the cause of insecurity or anxiety instead of the thumb sucking will help reduce the need. Parents who provide comfort are less likely to have children that feel the need for thumbsucking. Its important to reward children who refrain from thumbsucking during periods of anxiety. Be sure to encourage your child to stop thumbsucking by explaining what can happen if they continue. Your pediatric dentist can help with that too! And if all else fails you can help remind children of their habit by putting a sock over their hand at night time or putting bandage on their thumbs during the day.


If thumbsucking persists, your pediatric dentist may recommend the use of a mouth appliance. If you have concerns about thumbsucking or use of a pacifier, consult your pediatric dentist. At Pediatric Dentistry of Pleasant Hill, we are always here to answer any questions or concerns you may have!

Reference :
For more articles on dental health, see our main blog page.

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