Dangers of Thumb Sucking.

As a leading pediatric dentistry practice serving children in Birmingham and the surrounding communities of Hoover, Alabaster and Helena, the team at Medplex Pediatric Dentistry is focused on educating children about the importance of good oral health.

Many children suck their thumbs or fingers as the habit makes them feel secure and relaxed. Many children who suck their thumbs stop the habit on their own during the toddler years between the ages of 2 and 4. For older children who continue the habit, many stop sucking their thumbs on their own. But if a child continues to suck their thumb past the age of three, problems can occur with their bite. For example, some children who suck their thumbs develop what is called an open bite. This is a condition in which there is an open space between the upper and lower teeth when the child bites down.

In addition to causing problems with the alignment of the teeth, a thumb sucking habit can even make undesirable changes to the jaw. Therefore, thumb sucking is something to keep an eye on, even though we don't want to intervene too soon.

What to Do If Your Child Continues Sucking His/Her Thumb

If your child continues sucking their thumb past the toddler years, talk to your child about the habit. You'll have more success in breaking the habit if your child wants to stop the thumb sucking and is involved with choosing the method to do so. There are other ways you can help stop the habit including:

Use Positive Reinforcement

When your child is not sucking their thumb, give him or her praise or even a small reward such as an extra bedtime story or a trip to the park. Another good method is to use a calendar wherein you reward your child with a colorful sticker for each day he/she avoids thumb sucking.

Identify Any Possible Triggers

If your child is sucking their thumb in response to stress or boredom, identify what the particular issue is. If stress is the trigger, comfort your child with some extra hugs. If you think it's boredom, give your child an activity to do that keeps those little hands busy.  

Remind Your Child

Many children suck their thumbs without giving the habit any thought. Instead of scolding, criticizing or ridiculing your child when you see him/her sucking their thumb, gently remind your child that he/she is sucking their thumb so they can stop themselves without feeling embarrassed.

Speak With Us

If your child has a thumb, finger or pacifier sucking habit, we encourage you to speak with us. We can talk with your child and explain how good it would be to stop the habit. If need be, we can fit your child with a special oral appliance that makes it physically impossible to suck the thumb so the habit can be broken once and for all.

Thumb sucking is just one of many reasons why your child should come in to our office for regularly scheduled dental examinations starting at the age of

1. During these regular appointments, we will speak to your child about the importance of taking good care of their teeth and gums. We will also teach your child how to properly brush and floss each day to keep tooth decay and other problems at bay.

As pediatric dental experts, we have years of experience working with kids and know how to effectively talk with children. While orthodontic treatment can remedy problems resulting from a thumb sucking habit, we prefer helping you avoid having to pay this expense if at all possible!

Schedule Your Child's Appointment Today

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Baker, please complete the Appointment Request form. One of our team members will then get in touch with you to set up an appointment time that is convenient for you and your child. We've created a fun & nurturing kid-friendly office environment that helps our young patients relax and feel comfortable while spending time with us! Many of our patients look forward to their visits with us and we'll do everything we can to make your child feel right at home!

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