Easy Ways to Stop Thumb Sucking in Your Children

Thumb sucking is a common habit that often starts in infanthood, but without proper action and guidance, it can last far too long, and create long-lasting physical damages your child’s jaw and tooth alignment. Plus, the germ factor of sucking on one’s thumb (or any fingers for that matter) can introduce unnecessary sickness to your child’s body. Listed below are some easy ways to stop thumb sucking habits in your children.

1. Bandage the Thumb at Night

Many thumb sucking timeframes are when the child is going to sleep—it’s often used as a self-pacifying technique. Try placing a bandage or sock over their thumb (or entire hand if using a sock) to keep any fingers out of their mouth. If your child usually subconsciously puts their thumb in their mouth while falling asleep, the texture of the bandage or glove should make them want to remove their thumb from their mouth as they doze off.

2. Be Consistent in Pointing Out Thumb Sucking Habit

When you catch your child sucking their thumb, be consistent in correcting them. If you as the parent are lax in helping your child break their thumb sucking habit, your child won’t take it seriously. Pay attention to what settings trigger the thumb sucking—is it when they watch TV, or when they’re playing alone? Monitor these times to be sure to correct them—and when you notice them not sucking their thumb in these settings, offer praise for not sucking their thumb.

3. Show Videos or Photos of what Thumb Sucking Can Do

Thumb sucking can have strong adverse effects on your child’s teeth, jaw alignment, and nails if their thumb sucking habit persists—especially if it persists once their permanent teeth arrive. If your child is nearing the age of permanent teeth arriving, be straightforward with them on what could happen to their teeth if they continue to suck their thumb. An overbite or “buck teeth” is a common consequence of thumb sucking once permanent teeth arrive. The consistent pressure of having a thumb pressing on the backside of your child’s front teeth will likely push them forward so they stick out at an angle. While this will hopefully motivate your child to give up the habit, know that if the habit remains, more serious orthodontic work will likely be necessary in the future.

4. Offer an Alternative Coping Strategy

If your child resorts to thumb sucking when they’re anxious, seek out an alternative action they can take if anxiety creeps up on them. Try offering them an object that gives them the feeling of security—perhaps a special stuffed animal or blanket that they can hold onto during these times.

5. Ask Your Dentist for Advice

Enlist the help of your dentist if you need additional help in breaking your child’s thumb sucking habit. Sometimes children respond more quickly to adults outside of their daily life. At your child’s next dental appointment, ask your dentist to talk to your child about the issues of thumb sucking, and have your dentist encourage your child to give up the habit.

Breaking the thumb sucking habit in your children’s routines is essential to their overall oral health. While in the moment it may seem to never end, the persistent effort will be worthwhile. Learn about other ways you can protect your child’s teeth in their early years. Contact Dater Dentistry if you have any questions about other easy ways to stop thumb sucking habits, or if you want to request an appointment for your family.

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