thumb sucking

Help Your Child To Stop Thumb Sucking

By: | Tags: | Comments: 0 | December 19th, 2017

Thumb and finger sucking is normal in the newborn period. Thumb and finger sucking offers these tots a level of comfort allowing them to self sooth, relax and sleep.

Most children stop their non-nutritive sucking habit at two and three years of age. If your child stops his habit before the age of 5 then the negative effects of the habit should be minimal.

Thumb sucking isn’t usually a concern until a child’s permanent teeth come in. At this point, thumb sucking might begin to affect the roof of the mouth (palate) or how the teeth line up. This is more likely to occur if a child sucks vigorously, as opposed to passively resting the thumb in his or her mouth. However, aggressive thumb sucking can cause problems in baby teeth.

The American Dental Association and the British orthodontic society recommend:

  • Praise children for not sucking, instead of scolding them when they do.
  • If a child is sucking their thumb when feeling insecure or needing comfort, focus instead on correcting the cause of the anxiety and provide comfort to your child.
  • If a child is sucking on their thumb because of boredom, try getting the child’s attention with a fun activity.
  • Involve older children in the selection of a means to cease thumb sucking.
  • The pediatric dentist can offer encouragement to the child and explain what could happen to the child’s teeth if he/she does not stop sucking.
  • Only if these tips are ineffective, remind the child of the habit by bandaging the thumb or putting a sock/glove on the hand at night.
  • Other orthodontics for appliances are available.

If everything fails and your child is struggling with speech or dental issues, it may be time for an orthodontist to help. Orthodontic appliance options that can be fixed into your child’s mouth and can help stop the habit while correcting some of the negative effects of sucking habits by normalizing the position of the bones and teeth. Once orthodontic correction is achieved and habit has ceased your child will have greater self-confidence. Correction will also help improve mastication and speech.


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