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Quick Tips to Help Your Child Beat Thumb Sucking

June 14, 2018

Thumb sucking and finger sucking are habits common in many children. In fact, nearly one third of all children suck on their thumbs or fingers in their first year of life. Sadly, thumb sucking is an unhealthy oral habit that can have many different consequences down the line.

Thumb Sucking can Cause Oral Health Problems 

Unfortunately, thumb sucking can lead to many oral developmental issues that negatively affect the development of the mouth. Thumb sucking can casue an open bite, where the top and bottom teeth do not toch when the mouth is closed. It can lead to a narrowing and distortion of the palate and cause abnormal speech and misaligned bite patterns are common.

What Causes Thumb Sucking? 

Boredom, anxiety, anger, hunger, or even sadness can all cause children to suck on their fingers for comfort. Children mostly suck on their thumbs or fingers for comfort from an uncomfortable emotional state or stressful situation. 

Quick Tips to Defeat Thumb Sucking 

If your child hasn’t stopped sucking their thumb or fingers by age 4, then you must wean them from the habit so that they can develop a healthy young smile. By 4 years of age, your child’s mouth will be rapidly developing and thumb sucking can interfere with that process.

Identify their Thumb Sucking Triggers 

The simplest way to prevent thumb sucking is by figuring out what triggers your child to suck their fingers in the first place. If you can identify that, then you can help them adapt their behavior with positive reinforcement, or prepare them for the situation ahead of time. 

Intervene 

The best way to end thumb sucking is by intervening when your child is in the act. Explain to them that thumb sucking is a bad habit, and that it needs to stop so that they can be as healthy as possible.

Take a Family Approach 

You can’t be everywhere at once, so employ the help of your family to help rid your child of the bad habit. Make sure everyone is using the same language and intervention technique so that your child has a consistent understanding of why they need to break the habit.

Divert their Attention 

Diversion is another great method to overcome thumb sucking. If you catch your child sucking their finger, try diverting their attention with their favorite stuffed animal or toy, something that involves their attention and hands, to get them to quit right then and there.

Cover their Thumbs 

You can also make their thumbs less appetizing by wrapping them with Band-Aids, or cloth. This surprisingly simple method works well, and incentivizes children to get their uncovered thumbs back as soon as possible.

Visit Our Office 

Thumb sucking is a bad oral habit that can be fixed with proper knowledge and healthy habits. Schedule an appointment with our office so we can teach your child about the benefits of a healthy smile, and how they can work on one through healthy brushing and flossing, and a mouth-healthy diet. 


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