Digit Sucking

Digit sucking is a common habit that usually begins in infantcy, and sometimes in utero.  Most children  give up digit sucking around the age of four and this is usually early enough for any detrimental effects on their teeth to self-correct,  If a child continues past the age when their permanent teeth start to erupt, they may develop a bite abnormality and a malformed roof of their mouth. This varies from child to child and is a result of the frequency, duration, intensity, and position of the finger or thumb in the child’s mouth.  These negative effects can be corrected with orthodontic intervention.

Suggestions to break the habit:

  • Wait till the time is right.  Starting when a child is too young and/or there is stress in their life, such as the arrival of a new sibling, can be frustrating and counterproductive for everyone.
  • Motivate your child (show examples of what could happen to their teeth and fingers/thumbs).  We can be helpful in talking with your child about this at their dental visits.
  • Use a reward system.  Small frequent incentives seem to be the most effective in encouraging your child to stick with it.