My five-and-a-half-year-old is an enthusiastic thumbsucker (same one who still loves his lovey like no other). Always has been. All of the literature suggests that most kids naturally wean themselves by four. Oh well. He doesn’t seem to indulge in school, but the thumb comes out the minute he is tired or hurt, and stays in his mouth most of the night. Though my husband insists that there is a direct correlation between the thumb and my babying our younger son, I say if I had a thumb that gave me such instant pleasure, I’d happily live with an overbite for the rest of my life. But that’s me and, when push comes to shove, I don’t really want my child to have an overbite. While I haven’t really tried anything to get him to stop, I wonder if anyone has suggestions for gentle interventions before full-time headgear becomes an unwelcome accessory at the freshman dance.


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Comments (7)


  1. Posted by: ritu

    My 5 1/2 year old is the same: she has her “nap” (lambskin) and her thumb and she is devoted to them both. Her top front baby teeth haven’t come out yet, but they are loose and I am sort of keen to get her to stop sucking once the permanent teeth come in. I don’t know how pro-active I’ll be about it, though. She can make herself so calm and happy and it is kind of wonderful. I am thinking once those top teeth do come out, it might feel strange to suck her thumb and maybe she will finally stop on her own. Wishful thinking? My dentist has already told me that she will need braces regardless.

  2. Posted by: Randi

    We used band-aids on the thumb. My son got to pick out whichever ones he wanted, and they acted as a gentle reminder to him whenever he put his thumb in his mouth and felt the band-aid.

  3. I don’t have suggestions but I can tell about my experience. I was a HARDCORE thumbsucker. NOTHING broke me of it. And I was born with a natural overbite, so I’ll leave it to you imagination as to how all that thumbsucking worsened that situation. Mostly, my parents left me alone, but at preschool, the teachers put some kind of icky tasting ointment on my thumb. I HATED them for doing that.

    It wasn’t until, yes, the headgear came into my life, that I realized my parents were serious about fixing my teeth, and I eventually stopped. At age 8. Maybe it was 9, not sure. Can you believe??

    I think I would have been heartbroken if I had been forced to stop at age 5. I just LOVED sucking my thumb, I remember it making me oh so happy! Does your dentist feel braces are coming no matter what? If so, maybe it wouldn’t hurt anything to keep letting him to do it a little longer….

  4. Posted by: moi aussi

    I stopped sucking my thumb at age 38. If you can help him stop now, perhaps you should. I wish someone had helped me. Instead it was years of shame.

  5. Posted by: Christian

    If it were my kids, I wouldn’t worry about at all. Many (most?) kids get braces or invisilighn eventually anyway, right?

    Also, I sucked my thumb like your son, mostly only at night past elementary school for years and years. My mom said she once peeked in on me in highschool with thumb in my mouth while I slept and I never developed an overbite. Never even had to have braces. When I was at the dentist for a filling last week, in fact, he told me I had a “perfect bite”. 😉

  6. Posted by: Mary Beth

    I sucked my thumb til I was 6 or 7 or so (I’m not exactly sure) then gave it up cold turkey in exchange for a silver dollar. I guess I was ready. The comment above from the adult thumbsucker gives me pause, though. Maybe best not to let it go on indefinitely.

  7. Posted by: Laurie

    I heard there’s some kind of dental appliance (removable, like a retainer) which makes thumb-sucking impossible which weans kids off. I also heard Whoopi Goldberg STILL sucks her thumb (don’t know if this is verified- maybe I’m passing on false rumors!). I foresee this situation coming up with my son who is 1.5 since he loves his thumby. Then again, I had a serious underbite requiring surgery and braces twice, so maybe this will even things out for him!!

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