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Thumbs Down on Thumb Sucking

Children who still suck their fingers or thumbs after their permanent teeth start coming in — usually around the age of 5 or 6 — could be causing permanent changes that affect tooth and jaw structure. Specifically, thumb sucking can cause a misalignment of teeth. This misalignment can lead to a number of issues, including difficulty chewing and breathing problems.

Children who suck their thumbs generally do it to soothe or comfort themselves. Gentle support from parents can help reduce the behavior. A few ideas to keep in mind include:

  • Don’t confront your child or prohibit thumb sucking. Reinforce the behavior you want to see by praising them when they don’t suck their thumb.
  • Offer your child the opportunity to quit and why they should. Let them adjust to the idea. Empower them to make a different choice.
  • Don’t use any nasty tasting products to deter the behavior. Your child is sucking their thumb to find comfort.
  • Offer a blanket or a toy as another way to self-soothe.
  • Remember that children will stop sucking their thumb when they are ready.

During your child’s visit at Haring Dental Group we can discuss any concerns you have. In general though, it’s a good idea to help wean your child off his thumb by offering support and love.