I admit it. I sucked my fingers - the ring and middle finger on my right hand. I did it waayyyy longer than age five, which is when dentists recommend your kids stop doing any habit that can alter their dental development...prime candidate is sucking a thumb or fingers or on a pacifier.
Of course, kids suck on a thumb to soothe themselves, usually around naptime or bedtime, which, on the one hand, is a great ability, but as permanent teeth start to appear, it can throw off their placement and affect your kiddo's bite and palate.
Breaking the habit can be really hard. Dentists say look at how often your child does it and when - just before sleep or all the time at home? Does he suck on it in front of the television or in the car? See if you can start to decrease the amount of time and when your kiddo does it - heap lots of praise and rewards as he's trying to give it up. Think up different things he can do instead of sucking his thumb that occupy his hands.
Finger sucking isn't the only bad habit to hurt teeth: chewing ice and gnawing on pencils are also behaviors many kids start up and then have a hard time cutting out. Be on the lookout for those as well, to nip them before they turn into tooth-hurting habits!
Share your stories of sucking thumbs here!