Little girl thumb suckingMost kids feel calm and relaxed when they suck on their thumb, fingers, pacifiers, or individual objects. While kids usually do it to comfort themselves, doing it beyond four to five years of age can cause dental problems. Experts suggest that it may affect mouth growth, alignment of teeth, as well as cause changes in the roof of the mouth.

Children who vigorously suck their thumbs are most likely to experience problems. This is because a popping sound often follows when active thumb suckers remove their thumb from the mouth. The prolonged and aggressive habit may also cause problems with their baby teeth.

The good news is, there are few ways to break the habit. When it comes to pacifier use, always give your child a clean one; avoid dipping it into sugar or any other sweeteners. It is common to kids to stop sucking their thumbs from two to four years old.  As children spend more time learning more about their surroundings, the habit gradually goes away.

If your child, however, continues with thumb sucking after the age of four, it is best to discourage them. Pediatric dentists in Millcreek share a few suggestions:

  • Don’t yell or scold your child for their habits. It is best to acknowledge their efforts or offer rewards when they don’t suck their thumb.
  • Find out the reason or cause for their habit. Sometimes, kids suck their thumb because they feel anxious or insecure. Focus on addressing these issues, rather than simply telling them to stop.
  • A pediatric dentist can also discourage the habit by explaining to kids what would happen to their teeth if they continue doing it. The dentist may also prescribe a medication to coat the thumb to prevent kids from sucking it.

It is also a good idea to notice and observe when and where the habits start. Through this, you can find ways to turn away their attention and provide other alternatives.