Thumb Sucking

Thumb Sucking

Thumb sucking is a common comfort habit for children as they grow up. Somewhere between 70 and 90 infants suck their thumb, so you shouldn’t worry about it. Right? In most cases you don’t have any reason to worry, but if the habit continues you may want to keep a close eye on your child’s oral health by scheduling regular appointments at Islands Pediatric Dentistry.

Thumb Sucking Habits

Normal thumb-sucking starts at a very young age, sometimes even while inside the womb of the mother. It is a natural reflex that provides infants with contentment and a sense of security. It is relaxing as well, with children often sucking their thumb as they sleep.

Most children end the habit when they reach the ages of 2 through 4 without parental interference or the need for habit appliances. However, some children do not outgrow the habit and continue sucking their thumb throughout preschool and beyond. Thumb and finger sucking habits can cause an open bite in your child. This leads to aesthetic and functional problems as your child grows. Research has shown that I if the habit is broken by age 4 years, the chances of spontaneous self correction of Anterior open bite is much higher.

Is cases your child may not be able to stop the habit on his or her own by age 4-5, and will need some additional help to break this habit. In such cases, Dr. Rez will recommend your child to wear an appliance to to help with this process. The appliance is successful in almost 100% of times and is very well tolerated with kids. Children typically get used to it after the initial day or two. This can help your child avoid needing major orthodontic treatment in future.

How do I help my child stop sucking their thumb?

Children may face difficulty when it comes to preventing them from sucking their thumb. There are some things to remember and tips to try and encourage them to end the habit.

  • Be supportive and avoid punishing the child. Instead, give them praise for not sucking their thumb.
  • Put a sock or band-aid over your child’s hand or thumb when it is time for bed. Let your child know that it is to help them stop sucking their thumb.
  • If your child sucks their thumb during times of stress or anxiety, provide them with coping mechanisms for anxiety so they can work through it and eventually leave thumb sucking behind.

There are other methods you can try for your child, and it is likely they will grow out of the habit as long as you work with them. Islands Pediatric Dentistry can help your child with habit appliances that discourage thumb sucking and encourage proper oral habits.