The little bear who sucked his thumb
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Q. Should I be worried that my newborn is thumb sucking?

The sucking reflex is normal in infants. There is no need for concern if your baby is sucking it’s thumb. It is an excellent pacifier and provides security and relief from teething. Most children will stop sucking after the age of two.

Q. Is dummy sucking bad?

As with thumb sucking, dummies or pacifiers will cause no problems in infants. However it is important not to dip the dummy/pacifier in sugary substances as this increases the risk of tooth decay.

Dummies should not be shared with other children, as they can be a source of infection. Good hygiene principles should be implemented. Regularly check that the dummy/pacifier is in good condition.


Q. Will thumbsucking affect baby teeth?

Thumb sucking will affect the baby teeth if it is persistent. However this should not be a cause of concern as the teeth will self-correct when the sucking has stopped.

Q. Will thumb sucking affect permanent teeth?

This is where thumb sucking is a problem. If the habit persists after the age of six, then the thumb sucking will affect eruption of permanent teeth and cause dental problems such as open bite, cross bite, buck teeth.

Q. Can thumb sucking affect the swallow pattern?

Thumb sucking can lead to dental open bite and because there needs to be a seal when swallowing the tongue may thrust forward to close the space between the teeth, causing an abnormal tongue thrust swallow pattern.


Q. As a parent what should I do?

The DO’s –

DO be encouraging
DO praise any small achievements
DO offer an incentive or present to motivate the child
DO record their achievements on a chart or in a book
DO keep it fun and interactive
DO use aids such as bandaids, paint-on potions or guards, only if the child is happy to use them.
DO provide a secure living environment

The DON’TS –

DON’T nag or put pressure on the child to stop sucking
DON’T fuss or make it a big issue
DON’T use interceptive devices if the child does not want to stop yet
DON’T worry, or be overly concerned