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Dental Tip: Stop Thumb sucking Habits in Children

by on May 17, 2012

Getting your kid to stop sucking his thumb might be one of the toughest habits to break as your progeny grows from being a baby into a toddler then into a young child. Dental experts say that children start sucking their thumbs as a way to comfort themselves. Not all children experience dental issues as a result of this habit, but there are some who experience overbites, open bites and posterior crossbites. Dental specialists say that if your child still has baby teeth and the thumb sucking stops early enough, his teeth will naturally correct themselves. However, if your child has a posterior crossbite, he will have to see an orthodontist.

Dental providers say that most kids stop this behavior as they get older, but if you’re in a rush, there are some gentle ways to break your child’s bad habit. Dental specialists say most children stop sucking their thumbs between the ages of three and four. However, if your child hasn’t gotten to the thumb sucking stage, encourage them to suck on pacifiers instead. Dental care providers say pacifiers are less likely to cause dental problems than thumbs or other digits.

If your child is approaching five years of age and is still a hardcore thumb sucker, you need to start encouraging them to stop, although you should remain very gentle in your approach. Dental care experts say that it is normal if during the process, your child has a setback and begins sucking his thumb again. This is a self-soothing technique and it will fade away when your child builds up the confidence he needs.

Since most children suck their thumbs as a way to soothe themselves or cure boredom, try keeping them occupied with a fun activity. Some parents even apply a safe-to-ingest paint on the child’s thumb that doesn’t exactly taste like hot dogs or candy. Dental professionals say this method isn’t very successful, but it’s worth giving a try.

Of course there are a lot of gimmicks out there that claim to help, such as thumb covers and shirts with the sleeve sewn shut, but ordinarily, these just cause more frustration for your child. If all else fails and you still cannot get your child to stop sucking his thumb, dental experts say there is a dental appliance that can be inserted in the mouth that inhibits the placement of the thumb the way your child likes, thus, discouraging him from the practice. However, this dental solution is usually only applied to children who have begun to get their permanent teeth.

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