Thumb Sucking


Thumb Sucking

The bad habit of Thumb Sucking

Thumb sucking is one of the most common habits among children. You would see most of the small children suck their thumbs; it can be due to various psychological issues. Counseling is one of the best ways to get rid of these issues. However, in most cases, children stop this habit on their own by six years.

There are many reasons why babies start sucking their thumb. Firstly, they have this natural urge towards sucking, and in most cases, the urge decreases gradually with time. Thumb sucking can also become a habit in babies who use it to comfort themselves in different situations like when they feel hungry, afraid, sleepy, etc.

Problems associated with thumb sucking

If your child’s age is less than four years, then thumb sucking might not be a problem. However, if your child continues to suck their thumb past the age of 6 years, then it might expose them to various dental and speech-related problems.

Prolonged and continuous thumb sucking can affect the teeth’ alignment (malocclusion), causing the teeth to come out forward. In addition, the longer your child continues to suck their thumb, the higher is the chance that they would need to undergo orthodontic treatments like braces.

How to encourage my child to stop this bad habit?

Thumb sucking is indeed a bad habit, not only because it causes teeth issues but also because a dirty thumb inside their mouth can have a bad impact on their overall health. Talk to your child about the habit. You can use the following techniques as well:

  • Tell your child not to suck their thumb. If they adhere to that, give them small rewards or praise them. You can give them small attainable goals, like no thumb-sucking for an hour in the beginning. With passing time, their habit would slowly go away.
  • Many children seek comfort in thumb sucking. Identify the trigger that encourages them to suck their thumb- for example, if they do this during stressful times, then try to provide them some comfort in other ways. You can hug them and tell them some reassuring words.
  • In case your child sucks their thumb generally, give them gentle reminders. Please do not get angry or scold them for the habit; it would not improve the situation.
How can we help?

If you are concerned about the effects of thumb sucking, talk to one of our experienced orthodontists. You can come to our clinic and get your child checked; if required, our pediatric dentists would also talk to your kids. They can counsel them and make them understand the bad impacts of thumb sucking- it can prove helpful.

If nothing works, then our dentists might suggest some techniques like putting something bitter on your child’s thumb so that they stop sucking it. Putting too much pressure on the kids will not help in this situation; it would delay the whole process, so keep your patience.

If you have any questions about thumb sucking, or if you wish to book an appointment for your kids, contact us at 954-389-2345.

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