Why do children suck their thumbs?
Thumbsucking is soothing to children and helps them deal with different situations and emotions. Your child maybe sucking his/her thumb out of boredom, stress, worry, nervousness or being tired.
What does sucking a thumb do?
Thumbsucking can have a damaging effect on the growth of the jaw, contour of the face and even speech. Many infants have the sucking habit during their 1st year of life and over 30% of children continue to suck their thumb during the preschool years! After the age of six, 5-20% may continue this habit.
How do I get my child to stop?
It is important to encourage your child to end the habit without embarrassment or shame. POSITIVE measures to encourage a child to STOP sucking his or her thumb/finger are:
- Reward incentives: like a star on a chart for not sucking his/her thumb and then a larger incentive when a few stars are achieved or when the habit is stopped completely!
- Try not to be negative: Be as positive as you can during the habit breaking process.
- Support your child and provide a warm and caring enviroment.
- Ask your dentist to speak to your child while you are not present. Often children will listen to Adults that they don’t know well!
Often this oral habit will disappear, but if it doesn’t and your child is over 5 years old ,steps should be taken to correct the habit.
When should I be concerned?
A HEALTH PROFESSIONAL SHOULD BE INVOLVED IF:
- The front teeth are moving outward
- Teeth that stick out abnormally
- The child is 5 yrs of age or older
- Infections of the thumb/diget
- Thumbsucking seems to be related to an emotional problem
- Thumbsucking is interfereing with normal speech
- The childs relationships with friends and family begin to be affected
If the child continues the thumbsucking/finger habit, a habit correction appliance can be inserted in the childs mouth to discourage the habit and remind them to keep their thumb out. If you have further questions please contact us.