Thumb sucking is common and adaptive in infancy and early childhood. But when sucking occurs beyond 4 years of age, a common result can be an anterior, open bite that requires expensive orthodontic correction.1 Prolonged sucking may also be a factor in class II malocclusion, narrowing of the dental arches, mucosal trauma, and digital malformation.1-4 In addition to the physical sequelae of sucking, the habit, because it is not socially approved, can generate persistent negative feedback which can adversely affect a child's self-esteem.5

Thumb sucking is a frequently reported child behavior problem that, in some children, can be associated with broader behavior disorders that require treatment.

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