Worried about your child’s thumb sucking habit?

Worried about your child’s thumb sucking habit?

Posted on Jul 15, 2015 Kid's brushing tooth

Stroll into any location where you’ll find children and you’re likely to observe numerous kiddies doing one thing: sucking their thumb. Interestingly, babies actually discover their thumbs in the womb.

So, why do kids suck their thumbs? For those little munchkins, it’s widely thought thumb sucking is both comforting and calming. Some children even suck on just the one finger during the most stressful of times.

While it’s unlikely this bad habit will harm baby teeth, the real concern revolves around the alignment of permanent teeth which start breaking through at about 6 years of age. Once baby teeth are gone, any potential damage is greater and in certain situations, may involve an orthodontist.

Most children kick the habit between the ages of 2 and 4 which means in most instances, thumb sucking doesn’t pose a big problem.

Abnormal alignment of teeth (known as malocclusion), and damage to the structure of the roof of the mouth are both possibilities. Most people would be familiar with the term, ‘buck teeth’ – this occurs when the pressure of the thumb pushes the top teeth out and away from one another. Speech problems, lisps and so on are all possibilities in this scenario as well.

If you’re worried about your child’s thumb sucking habit, give your local NovaDental clinic a call and speak to your dentist. They’ll help to provide a clearer picture as to what’s happening with your child’s oral health and explain anything else you’d like more insight into.

There are a number of ways you can help your child to stop sucking their thumb. A quick look online will reveal the following suggestions:

  • Ignore it: sometimes, this is the best thing you can do in terms of any habit. Often, kids do certain things as a way of gaining attention.
  • Try to distract your child: If you know your child is more prone to thumb-sucking while enjoying certain activities (for example, watching television), ensure distractions such as toys are readily available so that sucking their thumb isn’t the first thing they do.
  • Don’t overly nag: children have the tendency to become incredibly defensive if they feel as though you’re nagging them. Back off a little and see what happens.
  • Throw in gentle reminders every now and again: while you don’t want to continuously scold your child for sucking their thumb, a gentle reminder every now and again won’t hurt.
  • Reward your child when appropriate: to reinforce your child’s decision to stop sucking their thumb, a hug or gentle praise is likely to help.

We’ve only really scratched the surface here in terms of thumb sucking and how it can impact your child’s teeth.

As is always the case, we suggest you have a chat with your NovaDental dentist for more information. You can make a booking at your local clinic by calling 1300 549 750.