Helping Your Child Get Through Thumb Sucking


Sucking Habits

Sucking is a natural reflex an infants and young children my suck on thumbs, fingers, pacifiers and other objects. It may make them feel safe and happy or provide a sense of security at difficult periods. Since thumb sucking is relaxing, it may include sleep.

Thumb sucking that persists beyond the eruption of the permanent teeth can cause problems with tooth alignment and the proper growth of the mouth. The frequency, duration, and intensity of a habit will determine whether or not dental problems may result. Children who rest their thumbs passively in their mouths are less likely to have difficulty than those who vigorously suck their thumbs.

Usually, children stop between the ages of two and four. Your child’s dentist at Children’s Dental Center can provide information regarding consequences of a habit as well as treatment to prevent possible dental or skeletal problems.

 Helping Your Child Get Through Thumb Sucking

  •  Instead of scolding children for thumb sucking, praise them when they’re not.
  •  Children often suck their thumbs when feeling insecure. Focus on correcting the cause for anxiety, instead of the thumb sucking.
  •  Children who are sucking for comfort will feel less of a need when their parents provide comfort.
  •  Reward children when they refrain sucking during difficult periods, suck as being separated from their parents.
  •  Your dentist at Children’s Dental Center can encourage children to stop sucking and explain what could happen if they continue.
  •  If these approaches don’t work, your dentist may recommend an oral appliance or other device to aid your child in correcting the habit.

Children’s Dental Center believes that education is the key to preventing childhood tooth decay. We’re committed to providing a forum where parents and pediatric dental professionals can discuss preventative dental care. We encourage parents, educators and doctors to check back frequently for more fun facts, articles and activities!

Source: (c) 2008 American Dental Association.

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