As children grow, they are expected to develop tendencies that include thumb-sucking. A baby’s natural rooting and sucking reflexes can cause them to put their fingers or thumbs into their mouth. But, thumb-sucking or even the use of pacifiers can result in dental issues. Taking your child to your family dentist is important to know how to break the habit.

Why Children Suck their Thumb

A child’s sucking motion comes naturally with their need to eat, up to a certain age.  They try to make a sucking motion with their lips to indicate they are hungry. Also, thumb-sucking offers infants a feeling of security while they learn about their surroundings. Such an urge often decreases after the age of 6 months. But some of them continue this habit as they become toddlers to aid in falling asleep or to soothe themselves until the age of at least one year. Children who suck their thumb at the age of 5 do it in response to an emotional disruption in their lives like anxiety. This habit is a natural way for a child to comfort themselves.

What’s Wrong with Thumb-Sucking?

Your child can develop oral and dental health issues when their thumb-sucking develops into a habit. As they suck their thumb, they put pressure on their upper front teeth’s inner side, which could result in bucked teeth. This can alter the shape of their face or result in bite issues which require orthodontics later. Also, thumb-sucking can have your child developing a lisp. Misaligned teeth can make some sounds hard to pronounce, thus, your child may speak with a lisp. When your child sucks their thumb for a long time, their palate may begin to reshape, causing it narrow. As a result, they have may have problems chewing and swallowing. Look at this site for more information on the dental effects of thumb-sucking.

How to Stop the Habit

If you want to help your little one stop their thumb-sucking habit, try to be patient and gentle. Do things in a way that you don’t embarrass them. Although you will eventually get rid of the pacifier, you cannot dispose of their thumb. Start by giving gentle reminders and working with cues from them. For instance, if they suck their thumb out of boredom, give them another activity to keep them busy like coloring. In some cases, babies will suck their thumb if they feel fatigued. Thus, consider adjusting the nap and bedtime of your child to get ahead of their tendency to suck. If your child sucks their thumb to get your attention, distract her with another activity like a trip to the playground or reading their favorite book.

Moreover, you can consider devices and treatment you can use for resolving your child’s thumb-sucking habit. Some parents have been able to successfully break the habit by applying a bitter-tasting substance to their thumb or wearing an apparatus on the thumb to prevent the thumb from fitting onto the palate. Talk to your dentist about solutions to break this habit.

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