Thumb-sucking is an instinctive behavior and commonly performed by infants and toddlers. Ultrasound images have shown the act of sucking tongue and fingers by fetuses in utero. This sucking habit can have a profound impact on physical, psychological and chemical state of being.
In western cultures, approximately 75-95 percent of infants engage in some form of sucking behavior, such as thumb, finger, tongue and ot pacifier.
With proper understanding, parents can help curb, and eliminate this behavior. However, appropriate help is difficult to find .Some children are known to stop this behavior at their convenience with little or even no help from their parents, but many do not stop
The prevalence of prolonged sucking behavior (non-nutritive) beyond the age of 5 is hard to identify. This is due to the shame and embarrasment of this behavior and is often done in secret. This becomes a cause of concern and angst for many parents.
Physically speaking, one concern is that the thumb or digit sucking will affect the growth of the upper jaw, and or slow down the growth of the lower jaw.
Another cause for concern, is that thumb sucking may cause a high narrow palate from finger or thumb pressure. Abnormal pressure from sucking, could also cause improper alignment of the teeth. This can cause not only distortion of the mouth and teeth, but it may also cause disfigurement of the thumb and or fingers. Other physical side effects from thumb sucking could lead to speech problems, abnormal swallowing patterns, and improper tongue position.
From a psychological perspective, prolonged sucking habits can greatly affect children, causing low self esteem and inhibitng their interaction with other people. In turn, social development may not proceed at a normal level and pace due to their of unaworthiness. If the sucking habit is not stopped, it's possible that the habit will
continue into adulthood
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