Thumb Sucking and Your Childs Oral Heath - Dental Team FL

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Thumb Sucking and Your Childs Oral Heath

Thumb sucking is common among children. Infants (even before birth) have rooting and sucking reflexes that can cause them to put their fingers in their mouths. Thumb sucking usually stops between 6 months and 4 years. But what happens if they continue to suck their thumb?

The Oral Health Issues With Thumb Sucking

If thumb sucking stops by the age of seven, teeth can often correct themselves. If the thumb sucking continues however the position of adult teeth can be permanently affected. Other dental issues that might be a direct effect of thumb sucking include a crossbite, an anterior open bite, a misshapen palette, and possible issues with chewing. Other evidence has shown that thumb sucking can lead to speech issues and intra-oral ulcers.

Tips for Helping Your Child to Stop Sucking Their Thumb

Use Positive Reinforcement – Communication is key when encouraging your child to stop sucking their thumb. Praising your child or offering a reward when they are not sucking their thumb can help. Sticker charts are helpful to track progress and give your child a visual aid of their success. Set small goals for them to achieve.

Recognize Their Triggers – Sometimes thumb sucking is a stress response. If you see this happening, identify the issue, and provide comfort in positive ways such as positive words of encouragement, a hug, or giving your child their favorite stuffed animal.

Don’t forget to remind them – Thumb sucking is an automatic response, and your child is doing it without thought. It is important to gently remind your child to stop and not to do so in a scolding or criticizing way.

Try Role Playing – If your child has a favorite stuffed animal or toy pretend that they want to stop sucking their thumb and have your child suggest how they can best do it.

How Can Your Dentist Help?

Check in with your child’s dentist and let them know your concerns. At your next appointment have your child’s dentist go over the importance of not sucking their thumb with your child. If you are a parent, you know that sometimes your kids will block you out. Hearing the importance of healthy teeth and why they should stop sucking their thumb from the dentist may help. Your dentist will also be able to provide you with other helpful tips and tricks including visual aids.

Thumb sucking can be a very difficult habit to break. Start early and take your time. Always remember to be patient and kind during the process.

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