So many parents smile as they watch their newborn babies put their adorable little thumbs in their mouths for the first time. Thumb sucking is an extremely natural and automatic action for young children and it can be endearing to witness. When babies suck their thumb, it helps soothe them and allows them to explore the environment around them. But if sucking habits continue past the age of five or six, it’s possible that problems with their teeth can occur.

Overbite from Thumb Sucking

As children suck their thumb the sucking motion will slowly make changes to the mouth and teeth. The American Dentistry Association has detailed that danger of thumb sucking is that the front teeth may jut out, and the child’s bite will be open, not allowing the upper and lower front teeth to touch. These skeletal changes begin to affect the alignment of the permanent or secondary teeth. If the habit can be stopped soon enough, the bite may automatically correct itself. Your child’s dentist can monitor your child’s bite and refer you to an orthodontist if necessary.

Easy Ways to Stop Thumb Sucking

Most children that suck their thumbs as babies and toddlers will eventually stop without any issues. If parents simply ignore the behavior many times the child will realize that this behavior is not acceptable from social situations and peer pressure. As the child enters kindergarten and is still sucking their thumb, parents may have to jump in and help the behavior stop. If you are ready to help your child stop sucking their thumb what can you do to help? We recommend trying some of the following tips:
• Trying positive reinforcement is always the first option. Making a chart that helps track your child’s progress as they quit is always an excellent place to start. When they reach certain milestones in the process you can have a reward system set in place.
• Being encouraging and praising your child when they begin to stop will help them stay motivated as they seek to stop sucking their thumb.
• You may consider taking your child to a pediatric dentist. Here at Smile Reef, we love teaching children about the positive effects of stopping the habit. Pairing with a dental professional can help validate the parents request in the child’s eyes. While your child is on our office we can also teach them about oral hygiene, help prevent tooth decay, and monitor their dental growth and development.
• May children will suck their thumb when they are stressed out or bored. Recognizing these triggers can help you distract them during times when they typically would fall back into the habit of thumb sucking. Extra hugs if they are stressed out may help. If your child is bored, help them find an activity to keep their hands busy.

Pediatric Dental Care

We hope that if your children have picked up the habit of sucking their thumb, they will stop all on their own. If not, we hope that some of the tips we shared will help them stop sucking their thumb. Keeping your child’s bite from having negative consequences that can result from thumb sucking for too long can be a tough job. Dr. Jensen and our staff here at Smile Reef will be happy to help you and your children on the journey if assistance is needed! Contact us today.