Thumb Sucking

Thumb sucking is a normal, natural part of many children’s development. Many babies find the practice soothing, using it to help put themselves to sleep. Some children have even been known to such their thumbs while still in the womb!

Once your child begins forming teeth, however, continuous thumb sucking could lead to problems within the mouth.

What types of problems could result? And as a parent, what should you do about it?

The Dangers of Thumb Sucking

As your child grows, his or her upper teeth should overlap the teeth below, leading to a normal bite. But sucking on a thumb, fingers, or pacifier could cause an abnormal or “open bite,” one in which the natural overlap doesn’t form. This is because sucking places undue pressure on the gums, hindering the teeth from erupting properly.

Additionally, thumb sucking could cause problems with the growth of the jaw bone.

Breaking the Habit

Many children break the habit of sucking on their own.

But what if your child needs help? You might try one of the following methods:

  • Reward: First, take time to explain to your child why he or she needs to stop sucking. Then, outline rewards for their efforts. These rewards can be simple, like a sticker or favorite activity.  If the child falls back into the habit, remind them about their reward, and that they need to avoid sucking in order to get it. Be sure to generously praise their progress.
  • Distract: What triggers your child to suck? Is it stress, boredom, or something else? Since children suck for different reasons, identifying your child’s triggers can help you to distract them at the right time.
  • Get help: Through firm yet gentle explanation, your Carmichael family dentist can help your child to understand why it’s so important to stop sucking. The dentist can also make special appliances available to you and your children, to help discourage the habit.

If you’re having trouble helping your child break this potentially dangerous habit, give the Marconi Dental Group a call today. We’ll work together to keep your child’s mouth in healthy shape, while giving him or her the loving care they need.