Speak with a Dentist for Kids About Thumb Sucking

By contactus@drgrazioso.com
January 03, 2018
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Thumb sucking is a common challenge that we deal with as a dentist for kids. Many parents bring their children to our clinic complaining that they suck their thumb and are unsure of how to get them to stop. As a dentist, our advice will depend on the age of the child. Most children that suck their thumb will stop by the 4 years of age, so if they are very young, this could be a problem that goes away on its own.

If the child is older than 5 years of age and still sucking his or her thumb, then it is time to take proactive measures to encourage the child to stop. Continuing to suck one's thumb may lead to long-term issues with the teeth and jaw. Each child is different, therefore, we recommend scheduling a consultation with our clinic to conduct an examination and discuss possible solutions.

Concerns with thumb sucking

Some of the concerns that we have with thumb sucking are that if a child still sucks their thumb when their permanent teeth are coming in or are getting close to coming in, there could be problems due to how the teeth come together. For example, the upper teeth may protrude forward and not align like they should with the bottom teeth.

Also, some children experience an open bite because of thumb sucking which means that when they bite down there is a hole or opening between the upper and lower teeth where they should be overlapping. This can create challenges with the child's appearance and with their speech patterns. Another concern is oral health. Children are notorious for touching everything.

If they touch a lot of things and then put their thumb in their mouth, that could be full of bacteria. As bacteria enters the mouth, the risk for cavities and dental infections will only increase. Parents can help by washing their children's hands frequently but, ultimately, the best thing is for them to stop sucking their thumb.

Breaking the habit is not easy

When parents bring their children to our office to see a dentist for kids, they are apt to express frustration. It is difficult to get children to stop this habit. Since most children start sucking their thumb as a way to pacify and calm their emotions, it becomes a very soothing activity. Asking a child to stop doing something that soothes them is very difficult.

Parents can help by providing comfort and emotional support when they see a child sucking their thumb. Rather than becoming angry, giving them a hug and even doing an activity like reading a book together may help a child feel comforted.

Visit a dentist for kids for help

If your child is sucking her thumb and you are concerned about the habit or their health, call our clinic and schedule a consultation. We will be happy to speak with you and answer questions along with examining your child and making any oral health recommendations. During that time, we can provide information on all types of oral health problems and suggest more ideas for improving your child's health.