2022 Top Dentist

How To Help Your Child Overcome Their Thumb Sucking Habit

Posted .

As a parent, you want the best for your child, and that includes their dental health. Unfortunately, thumb sucking is an all too common habit among children, and it can have negative effects on their teeth and jaw development if it continues for too long. Here are some tips to help your child overcome their unhealthy thumb sucking habit!

Why Thumb Sucking?

First, it’s important to understand why children suck their thumbs. Many children do it for comfort and to self-soothe, especially when they’re feeling anxious or tired. While it is a natural behavior that typically starts in infancy, most children outgrow it by the age of 4. However, some children do continue to suck their thumbs well into childhood, which can cause problems with their dental health as their mouth and jaw are developing.

The problem is, if thumb sucking goes on for too long, the pressure of the thumb pushing against the teeth and roof of the mouth can cause their teeth to shift or become misaligned. Once that happens, it can lead to problems with speech, chewing and even breathing properly. As thumb sucking affects the development of their jaw this causes an overbite or underbite to develop. In some cases, prolonged thumb sucking can even lead to the need for orthodontic treatment later.

Overcoming Thumb Sucking

So, what can you do to help your child overcome their unhealthy thumb sucking habit? Here are some helpful tips to try:

    1. Talk to your child: Explain to your little one why it’s important to stop sucking their thumb and how it can affect their dental health. Encourage them to think of other ways to soothe and comfort themselves, such as hugging their favorite stuffed animal or listening to calming music.

    2. Offer positive reinforcement: Praising your child when they’re not sucking their thumb helps serves as a gentle reminder. You can also offer them rewards for their progress. Young children are delighted buy small and simple things, like a sticker chart or a small treat to celebrate the win.

    3. Find a suitable substitute: If your child is sucking their thumb for comfort reasons, you can offer them a comparable substitute, such as a soft blanket or cute stuffed animal. This strategy can help them transition away from thumb sucking as they find comfort in these other offerings.

    4. Use a thumb guard: Thumb guards are devices that fit over your child’s thumb making it difficult to suck. These guards are a gentle and effective way to break your child’s habit of thumb sucking.

    5. Seek professional help: If your child is having difficulty stopping thumb sucking at a reasonable age, consider seeking help from our pediatric dentist or even an orthodontist. Both can provide additional strategies and support to help your child put their thumb sucking habit behind them.

Patience and Results

It’s important to note that breaking the habit of thumb sucking takes time and patience. As a parent, you want to be supportive, understanding and celebrate your child’s progress along the way! With the right approach, your child can overcome thumb sucking and go on to develop a healthy, beautiful smile.