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Thumb Sucking

dangers-of-thumb-sucking

Thumb sucking is a habit some babies exhibit while growing up. It is not abnormal as it provides soothing relief to children exploring their environment. However, if the habit continues beyond age 3, then the child might end up developing bite problems.

Normally, when we bite, our upper teeth overlap the lower half. However, continuous pressure from thumb sucking can cause the finger to affect the normal tooth and jaw growth. In some cases, some of the thumb suckers exhibit what we call an ‘open bite.’

Open bite implies that the teeth do not overlap – space is created between the upper and lower teeth whenever the child bites. That is more of a reason for parents to monitor a child’s thumb-sucking habit, as it can help prevent complications later on in the child’s life.

 

Breaking the Thumb-sucking Habit

Although most children stop this habit naturally anywhere between the ages of two through four, exceeding such age will require parental intervention. If you discover that your child has become an intense thumb sucker even after the grace period, you can try any of the following measures:

Psychological Reward.

You do this by discouraging your child wherever he or she engages in the practice. Do not scold them, instead, offer them tempting rewards if they can keep the thumb out of the mouth for a while.

Ensure you don’t tempt them with rewards such as sweets or candies that will be detrimental to their teeth. Instead, praising the child whenever you notice they have stopped the habit temporarily. It is a psychological ploy to make them lose interest in thumb sucking.

Distraction & Comfort

Several things can make your child want to suck their thumb. Try to make a correlation when you notice their thumb-sucking habits taking place, and then proceed to distract them from engaging in the act.

For example, if the child thumb-sucks when bored, try to engage the child in relaxing and entertaining activities.

Be Creative

Try to observe what your child loves. Then use that as a means to motivate the baby against the practice. Exploring various creative methods can serve as an excellent source of distraction to the child.

Seek for Assistance

If you’ve tried any of these options together with a pacifier and your child does not seem to lose interest, then dentistry can be helpful. Kindly contact a dental professional who will observe the child’s habit and proffer the right advice on the situation.

In some cases, oral equipment such as a ‘tongue crib, can also be used to restrict the child from the habit physically.

It’s important to note that your child will stop the habit early if you regularly visit the dentist right from when the child turns one. With that, both of you can also learn some necessary oral hygiene procedures that will help prevent tooth decay. This will create an opportunity for parents to track their child’s dental health and growth using the most cost-effective method.

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