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Thumb-sucking 'can lead to dental problems'
Updated: 8/19/2008 2:00:22 PM

Although thumb-sucking is normal among small children and infants, it can lead to dental or speech problems as the child grows, a dentist has cautioned.

Writing in the Springfield News-Leader, pediatrician Shannon Calvert says that sucking on a thumb can lead to tooth misalignment or may affect the formation of the roof of the mouth.

Formation problems in the roof of the mouth are linked to speech problems, she adds.

However, Calvert explains that it is usually not necessary for parents to keep children under five from sucking their thumbs, as long as no dental or mouth damage has been done.

"Many experts recommend ignoring thumb-sucking in a child who is preschool age or younger," she writes. "Most young children stop sucking their thumbs on their own."

The American Dental Association cautions parents that pacifiers can also affect the formation of children's teeth and mouth.
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