Stop Thumb Sucking in Children

Thumbs Up KidAs a Century City cosmetic dentist, I frequently hear dental stories from patients. Recently a parent was explaining to me how she helped her young daughter stop sucking her thumb. It’s rather clever and I wanted to share.

Stop Thumb Sucking by Involving Your Child

Shortly before her four-year-old daughter prepared to enter kindergarten, the mother decided it was time to take action. Not wanting her daughter’s thumb sucking to become an embarrassment in school, the mother decided to provide her daughter with a way to help herself stop sucking her thumb.

The mother told her daughter that she should think of her thumb and fingers as a family. The four older brothers (her fingers) needed to protect the younger sister (her thumb) from going into the dark cave (her mouth). Whenever the young girl felt the urge to suck her thumb, instead she would wrap her four fingers tightly around her thumb to protect the “little sister.” Eventually, the daughter was able to overcome her thumb sucking.

By including her daughter, she was able to give her child a sense of control. This is important in a young child’s development.

Understanding Thumb Sucking and its Effect on Oral Health

First, understand that thumb sucking is normal for infants and young children. While it should fade gradually, usually sometime after six months of age, some children continue. It is a way of comforting themselves, especially when hungry or tired.

A problem arises when thumb sucking continues beyond the age of four or five, according to the American Dental Association. As your Beverly Hills cosmetic dentist can tell you, older children who suck their thumbs are at risk of dental and/or speech problems.

In addition to improperly aligned teeth (pushed outward), speech problems such as lisping, thrusting the tongue when talking, and the inability to pronounce Ts and Ds may occur.

Because thumb sucking may be tied to a child’s insecurities, your Century City cosmetic dentist suggests parents seek a home remedy, like the mother in our story above. Additionally, consider offering praise, celebrations, and rewards for the days when your child doesn’t suck his or her thumb.

You also may want to monitor when your child sucks his or her thumb in order to find other activities and distractions. You also can put away items associated with thumb sucking, such as blankets, or wrap a bandage around the thumb.

However, if you continue to have concerns or the home treatments don’t work, it’s important to speak with your Beverly Hills cosmetic dentist. It may require other treatment options, such as thumb or mouth devices.