How to Stop Your Child From Thumb Sucking

It is not uncommon to see a toddler calmly sucking on their thumb or a finger; some even find it a bit endearing. But the older the child gets, the more the habit not only becomes unsightly, but detrimental to their dental development.

Thumb sucking is pretty normal for kids between 0 and 4 years. They use it as a soothing mechanism to help them calm down, relax and get to sleep. In some cases, pediatricians trace this habit to the prenatal period, as ultrasound photos show children sucking on their thumbs even in the womb.

If you're having trouble keeping your child from sucking their thumb, worry not; we're here to help. Today, we'll be looking at how you can stop your child from sucking their thumb.

Some Problems Caused by Thumb Sucking 

Thumb sucking seems pretty harmless on the surface, but its effects are far worse than most people think. If the thumb sucking persists for too long, it may lead to the following:-

  • The development of open bite, a gap between the front teeth
  • Overbite, where  the front teeth extend beyond the bottom teeth
  • The child might also develop a lisp or other speech impediments

There are dental treatments for the above conditions, but they may be a tad costly. You're better off breaking the habit early on before it leads to the said conditions.

How to Stop your Child from Sucking Their Thumb 

Thumb sucking isn't a permanent habit, and there are plenty of ways to stop your child from sucking their thumb. But before we get to what to do, let's first cover the don'ts:- 

  1. Don't use gloves, mittens, hand braces, or any other objects that may hinder the child's motion or general use of the hand. All they do is make the child frustrated and anxious, which may have far-reaching consequences on their mental health. 
  2. Don't apply awful-tasting substances on the child's thumb as a ploy to stop them from sucking their thumbs. This may lead to a child developing feelings of distrust toward you. 
  3. Don't be argumentative when trying to encourage your child to stop sucking their thumb. Setting ultimatums will only lead the child to continue their habits in secret.

And now for the DOs:

  1. Try to limit the time your child sucks their thumb. You can do this by encouraging them to avoid sucking their thumbs in public and restrict the thumbsucking time at home and bedtime.
  2. Observe the time and situations that prompt the child to suck their thumbs and come up with substitutes for their habit. For example, if the child sucks their thumb before falling asleep, try giving them a cup of warm milk to provide the same soothing feeling.
  3. Try talking to the child about the habit and offer support and encouragement. When your child quits sucking their thumb for a while, reward them with praise or a visual reward like a sticker.
  4. Consult a dentist who has a wealth of learning resources that may work better for the child. A dentist can also put you at ease with the effect of thumb sucking on the child's dental health.

Let Us Help Your Child Break the Habit

Your child sucking their thumb is completely normal and comes instinctively. So don't get overly stressed about it; in all likelihood, they will eventually grow out of it. However, if the habit persists, it's time to get help from the dentist. 

Here at Desert Kids Dental, we have the perfect methods to get your child to stop sucking their thumb. Call us at (702) 660-7099, and we'll help them break the habit.

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