So many times babies have a hard time calming themselves down when they are upset. As a parent when you have a baby that finally learns how to self-soothe it is such a fantastic day! Parents do not normally care if their baby learns to soothe by sucking their thumb or fingers, using a pacifier, or with a special toy or blanket. They are just so excited that their baby does not always need their help to calm down they do not matter what the tactic is. As time goes on parents start to have concerns about whether their child’s self-soothing methods will cause any harm. One question that we get here at Smile Reef is if thumb sucking will damage their child’s teeth. Today we want to dive into this issue with you.

Does Thumbsucking Cause Damage to Teeth?

So does thumb sucking cause damage to your teeth? The answer is kind of tricky to give a straight yes or no to. Not all thumb sucking causes damage but some thumb sucking does cause damage. If your child simply has their thumb in their mouth but is just passively holding it in their mouth it does not typically cause any damage. If your child is actively sucking on their thumb with a lot of motion though it is more likely to cause damage to their baby teeth. If your child sucks their thumb for a prolonged amount of time it is more likely to cause problems with the proper growth of the mouth and the alignment of teeth. Sometimes it also causes to the roof of your child’s mouth.

Pacifier to Replace Thumb

If your baby sucks their thumb you will eventually need to break the habit. Some parents prefer to break the habit right away. If you want to break the habit when your child is a baby you may want to try to transition your child over to a pacifier. Sucking on a pacifier provides your baby with the same comfort that sucking their thumb does. The advantage to switching over to a pacifier is that getting your child to stop sucking a pacifier is easier than getting your child to stop sucking their thumb.

How to Stop Kids from Sucking Their Thumbs

The American Dental Association reports that most children stop sucking their thumb on their own between the ages of 2 and 4. As kids get older they spend more time playing friends and exploring the world around them and no longer feel the need to suck their thumb. Sometimes their friends help provide positive peer pressure that will help your child stop sucking their thumb. If your child is 4 years old and still is sucking their thumb you will want to help them break the habit. As you start this process we have a few tips for you. First we recommend that you focus on the positive instead of the negative during this process. Finding time to praise your child for not sucking their thumb in circumstances when they normally would is more effective than scolding your child when they are sucking their thumb. Offering rewards for your child is also something that is known to work well. Sometimes your child has a really hard time not sucking their thumb. You can try a bandage or a thumb on their thumb to see if that helps. There are products on the market that can help with this as well. Many parents have luck with an ointment that they put on their child’s thumb that makes their thumb taste bad.

Pediatric Dental Care

You can bring your child to us here at Smile Reef for some help too. We can talk to your child and explain what can happen if they continue sucking their thumb. Sometimes having someone else talk to your child is more helpful than doing it yourself. We can also examine and evaluate their teeth development and overall oral health to catch problems early. Contact us today!