Thumb Sucking

Thumb sucking is a self-soothing habit that babies and toddlers develop. According to pediatricians, it is a very appropriate habit. It is a natural reflex for children, making them feel happy and secure.

When Should A Child Stop Thumb Sucking?

Generally, a child should stop thumb sucking between 2 and 4 years old. A child also tends to give up on sucking on the thumbs when the permanent front teeth start to erupt. In case they do not stop despite the age or appearance of the primary teeth, and you are concerned, then consult a dentist.

How Thumb Sucking Affects A Child’s Teeth?

There are several issues that a child might face if he/she does not stop sucking the thumb even after the growth of the front teeth.

  • Alignment: Thumb sucking can change the alignment of the teeth.
  • Roof of the Mouth: Children who engage with vigorous thumb sucking can change the roof of the mouth
  • Growth of the Mouth: Vigorous thumb sucking children can impede the proper growth of the mouth.
  • Lisp When Speaking: Another long term effect of thumb sucking is children developing lisp in speaking as the front teeth stick out even when the mouth is closed or have tongue thrust.
  • Open Bite: A child is also likely to develop an open bite with the upper and lower front teeth not meeting each other.

How To Break The Habit?

Few remedies to break the thumb sucking habit of your child are:

  • Pacifier/Dummy: If your child is still quite young, then replace the thumb with a pacifier. It causes less damage than the thumb.
  • Praise: Compliment the child for not sucking the thumb.
  • Pacify Anxiety: Since thumb sucking is a self-comforting technique, understand what is causing the stress in your child and address the issue and comfort him or her.
  • Involve Your Child: If your child is older and still into sucking the thumb, involve him or her in determining the method that would help in stopping the habit of thumb sucking.
  • Dentist: If all these fail, then consult a dentist. There are now ranges of devices that can help in breaking the habit of thumb sucking. One such device is Thumb-Sucking Guards.

There are two types of thumb-sucking guards that a dentist can offer.

  • Aversion Therapy Splint: It is a plastic cylinder that is put on the thumb of the child and is quite hard to fit comfortably in the mouth of the child, thus stopping the habit.
  • Mouth Guard: It is placed in the mouth of the child and is designed in a way that it keeps the thumb away from the roof of the mouth, hindering the suction that the child wants to achieve.

If you feel your child’s thumb-sucking habit is causing any issues or is way past the age, then do contact us, we will help your child to break the thumb sucking habit.