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3 Popular Myths About Thumb Sucking Debunked

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Fostered by an innate impulse, intense or prolonged thumb sucking is a prevalent habit displayed in young children. Over time, a pattern of behavior develops that proves difficult to break. Unfortunately—according to the oral health experts at Colgate—this tendency can cause long term developmental side effects.

Have you been researching how to break the thumb sucking habit for good in order to support your child’s wellness? Begin by understanding critical discussion points on the subject. Now is the time to separate fact from fiction and gain further insight concerning the most common misconceptions. Here are three popular myths about thumb sucking debunked.

Myth: “The Main Causes Are Emotional Problems”

The number one thumb sucking topic that concerned parents primarily inquire about is the cause. A common myth is that thumb sucking is customarily caused by deeply rooted emotional problems or attention-seeking acts of defiance. The reality is that a majority of children that carry this habit grow up in caring homes with perceptive parents.

In reality, the true cause for prolonged sucking behavior depends on the individual child. Many experts agree that the root cause has a genetic component, and many children associate sucking with positive feelings due to the comfort they felt during breastfeeding, as infants.

Some children may need to see a pediatric psychologist or pediatrician to overcome underlying delays or difficulties, especially if they are older than 4 years old, and rely on thumb or finger sucking frequently to deal with stressful situations. In any case, blame should not be placed on either the parents or the child. Sucking is naturally instinctive and addictive, and most children do not know how to stop on their own, requiring a behavioral modification approach.

Myth: “No Harm, No Foul”

The notion that thumb sucking causes no lasting or permanent harm is another myth, which is not 100% true. . The long-standing side effects of the behavior generally depend on the intensity, frequency, and duration of the habit—alongside the specific medium and placement of the digit sucking. As mentioned by the American Dental Association, the applied angle and pressure can cause an assortment of consequences throughout growth and development.

The core jaw, facial, and mouth concerns include the potential for overbites, open bites, speech impediments, and improper tongue and lip posture. Any physical long-term effects could further manifest into behavioral, social, or well-being issues down the line.

In other words, although some children who suck may not develop any outward physical deformities from sucking, those whose habit is not so mild may face a much higher risk. In either case, sucking does pose as a vector for disease transmission (all those germs and viruses going directly into the mouth!), and for that reason, can pose a danger to even the most mild thumb or finger sucker.

Myth: “Children Will Grow Out of It”

Contrary to popular belief, many children do not automatically grow out of the habit as they age. As the ADA also notably publicizes, parents should therefore attempt to discourage thumb sucking behaviors after a child reaches the age of 4. If left untreated, habitual thumb sucking behaviors can become a permanent l emotional or relaxational crutch, seen well into stages of adulthood.

All things considered, concerned parents can effectively help their child stop their familiar thumb sucking habit. Responsive treatment options should be tailored to fit the needs of your family. Get creative and consider diverse strategies and approaches, including an innovative AeroThumb or AeroFinger product available from the creators of TGuard.


Helping Your Child Break A Thumb Sucking Habit” from Colgate

Thumb sucking and pacifier use” from the American Dental Association