Fact: Thumb sucking can begin as early as pre-birth.   It is well documented, expectant parents have viewed their little one sucking that cute thumb on their ultrasound.   Many children will stop this pattern on their own however, the population we need to be concerned about are those individuals who are still thumb sucking at age three and beyond. 
Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Dental Association acknowledge that chronic thumb sucking beyond the age of three can do a great deal of damage to the oro-facial structure, the dentition, speech, and social development. 
Dental Effects of Thumb Sucking
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