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Thumb-sucking and dental health
Updated: 12/22/2008 8:00:02 PM

Thumb-sucking and dental health It is common for parents to be worried about the effects of thumb-sucking on their child's dental health.

But, according to the American Dental Association, moms and dads may only need to take action if the habit lasts too long or if the child is unusually forceful in their sucking motion.

Sucking is a natural reflex in an infant, helping them to feel secure and comforted - that is why so many babies suck their fingers, thumbs and pacifiers.

As a child grows older, there is the chance that their thumb-sucking could affect tooth alignment and the development of the mouth.

"The intensity of the sucking is a factor that determines whether or not dental problems may result," the ADA states on its website.

Parents who notice any changes in their kids' mouths or baby teeth as a result of thumb-sucking should see a dentist.

Children tend to stop sucking their thumb between the ages of two and four, according to the ADA.

Dentists may have recommendations for how a parent can help their youngster break the habit, if necessary.

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