Thumb Sucking: When to Be Concerned

10/25/18
Sucking is a normal baby reflex. It helps babies and toddlers feel secure and happy and helps them learn about their world and their developing teeth. Thumb sucking is also soothing, and helps to induce sleep or calms the child when separated from their parents or when placed in a stressful situation.
Dr. Frank Sierra shares, “The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that children be encouraged to stop their thumb sucking habits by age four. The continuation of vigorous thumb sucking can lead to changes in the palate and teeth alignment. Proper bite is important for the adult teeth which are set to replace the baby teeth.”
Usually the child will begin to change and cease their thumb sucking habits with gentle encouragement from their family and peers. There are some tips that can help the situation.

Ways to Help Your Child To Quit Thumb Sucking
  • Give praise when your child doesn’t suck their thumb. Being positive is very important.
  • Notice when your child does it, and look for ways to distract them or to provide other options.
  • If your child sucks their thumb when they feel anxiety, you should look for ways to alleviate that anxiety.
  • Work with your pediatric dentist and have them explain the dangers of thumb sucking.
  • Add a bandaid or sock to your child’s hand as a reminder that thumb sucking should be avoided.
  • Chart the progress and review the success with your child.
Being conscious of the thumb sucking problem and working with your child will help. Their forever smile depends on you and the good habits that you encourage.