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Thumb Sucking

Do adults suck their thumbs?

Do adults suck their thumbs? Are there any celebrity thumb suckers? These are questions we are often asked. The answer to both, is yes.

A 2017 survey showed that 12 per cent of adults are thumb suckers. Other estimates are that around one in ten grownups suck their thumbs. Around two-thirds of these are women.

Famous thumb suckers

There are a number of well-known thumb suckers from Susan Boyle to Rihanna. Amy Winehouse, too, was often snapped by paparazzi while sucking her thumb. And it’s not just singers: Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence also appears unable to kick the habit. Even actress Emma Stone reveals thumb sucking effected her teeth.

While these famous thumb suckers get a lot of media attention, and sometimes criticism, adult thumb sucking can be a cause for real concern.

Why do adult suck their thumbs?

Thumb sucking is a natural reflex – in fact, it is one of the first reflexes we learn in the womb. As a child grows, they typically move on to other reflexes and behaviours. For a small number, however, thumb sucking can continue into late childhood and even adulthood.

At this stage in life, thumb sucking is usually a coping mechanism – a way for adults to deal with stress and anxiety. In some cases, if a person found that sucking their thumb as a child helped them to feel calm, it can be a difficult habit to break in adulthood.

The consequences can be serious, however. Some of the most common are mis-aligned teeth, problems with the roof of the mouth and even altered jawlines. Speech problems can also develop, and some evidence suggests that adult thumb suckers are more likely to develop oral infections.

Unfortunately, the longer a person sucks their thumb, the more likely they are to need orthodontic treatment.

How can I stop?

The first thing to bear in mind is that you should not be ashamed of your thumb sucking habit. While it may not be ideal, it did start as a natural reflex after all.

It can be important to look for help, however.

You can speak to your doctor, and you may also want to speak to a counsellor if you feel that the thumb sucking has become a crutch or a means of dealing with anxiety. They will help you to develop other, healthier techniques.

Another good option is exercise. A brisk walk, swim or jog can help to reduce anxiety, and limit the need to suck your thumb for stress relief.

So, the next time you hear someone asking, “do adults suck their thumbs?”, remember the answer is “Yes.” The good news is, with the right help, the habit can be stopped and long-term damage can be avoided.


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Brilliant invention. So good we came back and bought more! Has really helped our son kick the habit. Dan Perry Read more reviews

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