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Thumb Sucking ... At what age do you try to discourage it...

(35 Posts)
Tillyscoutsmum Tue 07-Jul-09 19:40:37

or do you just let them be until they grow out of it ?

What harm can it actually do ?

nigglewiggle Tue 07-Jul-09 19:49:10

Don't know, but will watch with interest. DD1 (3.5) still sucks hers, particularly when she is unwell or tired. I actually still think it's rather sweet, but I do get sick of hearing myself say "take your thumb out, I can't understand you."

My friend whose daughter is the same age and is a finger-sucker has been told to try to stop her by her dentist because she is developing an over-bite. Don't think he told her how though!

I've tentatively mention to DD that big girls don't suck their thumbs, but I'm not making a big thing out of it.

How old is your thumb-sucker?

PestoMonster Tue 07-Jul-09 19:55:57

I dissuaded dd2 when she was 7 and her second teeth were coming through. She got rewwardded at the Bear Factory and never did it again (She had to stop sucking her thum b fo r a month!_)

Wilts Tue 07-Jul-09 19:57:17

I have a 12 year old thumb sucker grin

Unfortunately he is now currently on the waiting list for braces after developing a large overbite

Tillyscoutsmum Tue 07-Jul-09 19:58:17

She'll be 6 in December. We've been trying to gently discourage and have "agreed" she can still suck her thumb in bed but not at other times but it we still seem to spend most of time saying "take your thumb out"

I was worried about teeth and possibly being teased at school..... and the skin on her thumb is really cracked and sore

Worzsel Tue 07-Jul-09 19:58:55

DD's 4.6 and an avid thumb sucker. I'm hopingng she'll grow out of it but not holding my breath.

Wilts Tue 07-Jul-09 20:01:10

We now shout 'thumb' if we see Ds1 with it in his mouth. It has just become habit for him and he hardly knows he is doing it any more.

He does it more when he is tired, I just don't see how you can forcibly stop a child sucking their thumb. Ds2 having a dummy was so much easier grin

terramum Tue 07-Jul-09 20:11:07

I don't/won't. I still suck mine at age 35 and my parents still shout thumb at me when I do it...gets right on my nerves angry

CherryChoc Tue 07-Jul-09 21:36:01

I am a 21 year old thumb sucker! My sister gave up sucking her fingers when she was about 5 - but I remember my Dad going on at me about it and I used to do it when I was going to sleep just because I knew he couldn't stop me doing it then. I think I might have stopped by myself if he hadn't gone on so much.

I very quickly learned not to do it at school, and my teeth aren't perfect but I really think they would have been this way anyway. They are not that bad.

PrettyCandles Tue 07-Jul-09 21:49:10

The dentist's explaination of why he needed to stop sucking his fingers impressed ds1 so much that he stopped by himself, daytimes, age 3. He still sucked to sleep. At 6 he had a small wound on his fingers that bothered him so much he couldn't suck them, and by the time it had healed, the habit was broken. His teeth had been a little crooked, but they straightened out very quickly once he reduced his finger-sucking.

Dd sucked her thumb and nothing could persuade her to stop. She sucked much more than ds1. At 4 the dentist warned me that her jaw was being distorted, not just her teeth. I could see this for myself already. So I got a Thumbguard and promised her a reward when she stopped thumbsucking. It worked, and her jaw is straightening out nicely.

It really was a gentle and unstressful way to break the habit, but can only be done with the child's agreement and co-operation.

Ds2 never sucked his thumb - and boy did I wish he would! He sucked me instead.

SoupDragon Tue 07-Jul-09 22:02:30

Discourage them sooner rather than later.

DS1 is 2 years into £4k worth of private orthodontic work to correct thumbsucking damage to his teeth and jaws.

NewYearNewBaby Wed 08-Jul-09 19:50:02

I sucked my thumb until I was about 13 and was told by the dentist that I would be unable to have treatment until I stopped. I had pushed my top teeth outwards and my bottom teeth inwards (I still have the mould they took and it really is scary). I had various braces for about 5 years and a total of 4 adult teeth removed. It was a very unpleasant experience. My mum bribed me to stop by offering £40 if I stopped (which I did in a week!!!). I carried some blu-tak around with me to keep my hands busy when I wanted to put my thumb in my mouth (I guess a bit like a smoker giving up!!).

I'm afraid I have no idea how you would stop a small child sucking their thumb/fingers, but would recommend trying to stop them if you possibly can, as treatment isn't much fun

LoveBeingAMummy Wed 08-Jul-09 21:40:19

I asked the dentist about this when I took DD fr her first appt at 12 mths and was told that the damage depends on how hard she sucks. Somepeople just have their thumb there and others really suck away. I had always thought I would just let her grow out of it however i decided then to give her a dummy every time i put her down to sleep as this is when she mainly suks it.

Sugarmagnolia Thu 09-Jul-09 09:46:26

DD sucked her thumb from 3 months old. Only ever did it at night or when she was tired but now, at 8, she has a bad overbite and slightly distorted upper pallet. She currently is wearing retainers which is a)preventing her from thumb-sucking and b)sorting out the overbite a bit. BUT she is still likely to need proper braces once all her adult teeth are through. She's had the retainers for about 6 months now but still says she misses being able to suck her thumb.

SoupDragon Thu 09-Jul-09 10:17:43

Actually, the damage is also done by not having the teeth together and the lips closed. So, if your child sucks all the time (as my DS1 did) the problem will be made worse.

On the bright side, DS1's just been told he can cut down to wearing his brace for 14 hours a day, which means not at school, and he has the most fabulous teeth, cheekbones and jawline as a result of the treatment. He's now 10 and will not need adult teeth extracted or braces later.

princessmel Thu 09-Jul-09 10:25:23

Dd is a thumb sucker. But mainly only as she's falling asleep , then it falls out. Or if she's watching tv and is tired or if she's upset, fallen over etc. I don't think she sucks that hard.
Dh says 'no thumb dd' if he see's her doing it in the day, I am more soft relaxed.

That thumb guard makes me feel sad!

fufflebum Thu 09-Jul-09 10:27:11

I am in my thirties and sucked my thumb for the first 11 years of my life. I had braces which involved a headgear contraption for a year or so (worn at night!).

If you asked would I have wanted someone to stop me sucking my thumb I would say NO!!!

It offered me comfort and so forth and was all part of growing up.

This has appeared a a thread before and it worries me that people want to stop kids doing it.

I think that the more you draw attention to it the bigger the issue it becomes for children (I speak from experience as my mum covered in nail polish-the stuff to stop you biting your nails and tried everything). I remember VERY clearly taking the decision to stop and did over night WHEN I WAS READY!

It can be harmful to your teeth and so forth (as other posters have said) however, I have a toddler who sucks his fingers to get off to sleep. I won't be telling him to stop and so on, he can do this when he is ready. What I have done it limit his use of a blanket comforter to when he goes to bed.

Good luck. I would be relaxed about it. The more relaxed adults are about these things I think the more relaxed the kids are. If they see it annoys you (I am talking about older children) it is likely to continue IMO.

RedOnHerHead Thu 09-Jul-09 10:28:18

my 4.7 yr old DS sucked his thumb until about 3 months ago. I never ever made any references to his thumb sucking and he grew out of it on his own.

We did have a problem back last year when his nail got infected from the sucking, but he switched to sucking his little finger then.

My DS2 now sucks his thumb too - he's 14mths. I suppose it's natures own pacifier, and, personally, I prefer to see a thumb in the mouth than a dummy.

I was allowed to have a dummy until the age of 9 blush and I swore I would never give my children one (but they then chose their thumbs instead!) I don't know if its the same effect for dummy's and thumbs, but I actually have a kind of underbite - difficult to explain - messed up teeth! (maybe a few more years of the dummy would have been better for me!!!! grin It might have brought all my teeth foward sightly! wink

Good god, you have a lovely view of me - I'm not a complete ogre I promise! smile

fufflebum Thu 09-Jul-09 10:29:28

PS the dentist did warn me too and that did not discourage me either.

Like *princess mel* the thumbguard makes me sad.

Relax everyone............

RedOnHerHead Thu 09-Jul-09 10:33:15

I agree with fufflebum (nice name) its just something children do for comfort - The things that get attention are the things that children will do more of. Try to ignore it.

RedOnHerHead Thu 09-Jul-09 10:46:32

Is it really that damaging? Sorry, just reading the threads further down.....
How bad are these childrens teeth? I would consider mine as pretty bad - I have teeth that have one middle top tooth - like Tom Cruise's
but then I have the one tooth the one side - but the other is missing! No gap - it just never grew as there was no room for it. One of my fron teeth bites over the bottom and the other bites behind the bottom. Now the bottom teeth are pretty crooked too.

I had a brace when I was 13 and 14 on the bottom and the top. Did it work? NO - within a few years after having them done they went back to how they originally were! Nobody has ever commented on my teeth - they are clean, but crooked. Does it really matter that a few teeth aren't were they "should" be? Personally, unless there's a medical reason as to why they need the treatment, I think it just pushes our teenagers into thinking that they have to have perfect bodies. Perfect teeth, perfect abs, perfect boobs - etc..... life's about far more than looks IMVHO.

SoupDragon Thu 09-Jul-09 10:49:32

"Relax everyone"

Having seen my son sobbing when his brace caused him pain and him having had 4 baby teeth out to make space for the correction treatment, I will move heaven and earth to stop my 3yo from sucking her thumb.

Pinkjenny Thu 09-Jul-09 10:50:18

Dh is 32 and still a thumb sucker. Maybe now would be a good time for me to discourage it? grin

RedOnHerHead Thu 09-Jul-09 10:50:54

oh and for all parents with children who wear braces - just a word of warning - my teeth all have hairline cracks on them from the pressure exerted from being pulled about. sad

Wilts Thu 09-Jul-09 10:56:39

Soupdragon- I agree with you, people seems to underestimate the damage thumb sucking can do.

Ds1 looks like MO from the Simpson's in profile.

We are stuck on an NHS waiting list and it looks like his treatment won't start much before he is 14. I can't stand the thought of him being bullied because of how his teeth look now.

I only wish we could afford for him to be treated privately.

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