Oral habits such as thumb/finger sucking are habits that can occur early in life. The good news is that most kids give up this habit by age four. If your child continues beyond this age, don’t get discouraged, it can still discontinue on its own. Of course there can be oral/dental consequences with continued sucking habits in the form of malformed or crooked teeth and palate but don’t be dismayed, all these malformations can be corrected with time. The duration, frequency, and intensity seem to be the most important factors in determining the extent of malformation of the teeth and mouth bones.
How can I stop it?
You can’t. That is to say, the best method is to use some simple tools to help your child discontinue the habit when they are ready. When looking at many of the studies that have been done on oral habits, there seems to be a consensus that your child will stop the habit when they are ready. Positive or negative attention to the habit seems to make the habit continue longer. If your child is having a hard time stopping and they want to stop, there are appliances that we can fabricate to help remind them to stop. The best results of these appliances are in late childhood to the early teen years. Positive reinforcement seems to be the most effective method to help your child discontinue the habit.