Timbercrest Dental Center

Thumb Sucking Habit

Dr. John Luther

Dr. John Luther, D.D.S. & Founder

Nov 18, 2014

Let’s face it…kids like to suck on thumbs.  And fingers, and pacifiers.

Its a natural reflex that relaxes them and makes them feel safe and happy.  But, if they continue or overuse this habit, problems can occur with proper growth of the mouth and alignment of the teeth.

This can manifest in an open bite where the front teeth don’t meet or the top front teeth are flared out to make room for the thumb or pacifier.

Open bite due to thumb sucking

Child’s open bite due to thumb sucking – Photo credit to Giorgio Fiorelli

Your child should grow out of his or her finger or thumb sucking habit by age four; while children should not use pacifiers after age two.

Tips To Help Your Child Stop Thumb Sucking

  • Don’t scold; give positive reinforcement for not sucking
  • Children suck their thumbs when feeling frightened or insecure; comfort your child and focus correcting the cause of the anxiety
  • During stressful times for your child (like when they are separated from you), praise and reward him or her when they avoid thumb sucking
  • A sock over the hand at night (or a bandage) may help discourage your child from thumb sucking during the night
  • Your dentist may recommend an appliance or bitter-tasting liquid to coat the thumb or thumbnail to hinder their thumb sucking habit

If you have concerns about your child’s thumb sucking or pacifier habits, talk to Dr. John Luther today (920-734-9148).

Source: American Dental Association – W177 2012

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