Breaking the Thumb Sucking Habit

As your premier choice when it comes to providing dentistry for children, we at Dogwood Pediatric Dentistry are always glad to go above and beyond in delivering the most compassionate care in our dentist office for kids. We offer a wide variety of pediatric dentistry services that are aimed to set up your child for a lifetime of healthy smiles. While we’re always here to do all we can to help while your child is in our office, it’s also important for you to keep an eye out for any potentially harmful oral habits that he or she engages in throughout daily life. One of these habits is thumb sucking, a behavior that’s more harmful than it seems. 

Why Thumb Sucking Is Harmful

Many people don’t realize thumb sucking can actually cause oral problems for a child. Since children are constantly developing, a child that engages in thumb sucking will have the pressure of the thumb interfere with natural jaw growth and tooth eruption when it rests against the gums. This can end up causing crooked teeth and other orthodontic problems, such as an open bite (where the upper teeth and lower teeth don’t overlap). This isn’t merely a cosmetic issue – it can make it more difficult for a child to chew, speak and interfere with sleeping habits. In most cases, thumb sucking is completely natural and will typically go away on its own. However, this isn’t always the case. If thumb sucking continues after your child has reached the age of four, it’s vital that you take steps to stop this behavior.

How to Stop a Thumb Sucking Habit

Thankfully, there are many different strategies for how to stop a thumb-sucking habit. Your kids’ dentist in Savannah and Statesboro recommends that you first try the following.

  • Openly Communicate with Your Child – Oftentimes, the best method to stop a thumb sucking habit is simply to talk to your child about it. Many children don’t recognize the oral problems that thumb sucking can cause, which is why they continue to do it. You should first talk to your child about why thumb sucking is harmful and why it’s so important to curb this habit.
  • Praise or Reward Your Child – Reinforcing proper behavior is very important. However, you should try to focus on making sure that your reinforcement is positive rather than negative. Praise – or even reward – your child if he or she lessens the act of thumb sucking. Feel free to get creative with your rewards – you could buy a new toy, allow for some dessert or delay bedtime!
  • Avoid Problematic Circumstances – For some patients, the thumb sucking may occur in certain situations or times. If you’re noticing a pattern where your child begins to suck his or her thumb, it’s best to either avoid these circumstances completely or just keep your child occupied during these times. When your child is distracted or has his or her hands occupied, the thumb-sucking should be prevented.

Contact Dogwood Pediatric Dentistry Today!

If previous methods aren’t quite working the way that you’d like, we also offer habit appliances that are made to curb harmful oral habits. Feel free to contact us at (912) 298-KIDS or (912)-402-KIDS if you have any questions about our office or your child. If you’d like to schedule an appointment for your child in Savannah or Statesboro, please don’t hesitate to request a visit. We can’t wait to hear from you!

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