Thumb Sucking and Your Childs Teeth

Posted by LITTLE BYTES PEDIATRIC DENTISTRY on Sep 1 2016, 02:49 AM

Many children use thumb-sucking as a comfort and coping mechanism when they feel anxious or hurt, and many children naturally stop thumb-sucking between ages two and four as they develop other ways to comfort themselves. For some children though, thumb-sucking becomes a habit they can’t break, and the pressure sucking can cause in your child’s mouth can be enough to have serious and adverse effects on the structure and alignment of their teeth well into their adult lives. Studies show that parents should intervene in their children’s thumb-sucking if the activity persists past age five, and should consider the help of Palo Alto dentist Dr. Michelle Haghpanah if at-home weaning doesn’t seem to work for your household.

So how can you help?

Many parents struggle with helping their children breaking the thumb-sucking habit, so here are a few ways you can be a positive influence on your child’s coping mechanisms:

Try to encourage your child to only use thumb-sucking as a remedy to fall asleep, rather than a comfort for throughout the day or in public

Use positive reinforcement, and praise your child when he or she isn’t thumb-sucking throughout the day

Identify triggers for your child, and comfort him or her with other methods, such as a hug or calming words, when you think he or she might otherwise thumb-suck to cope with feeling anxious or nervous in a situation —

Practice self- awareness with your child in these situations, and ask your child to think about why he or she might be thumb-sucking

Most importantly, avoid punishing your child for thumb-sucking, as this could stir up more anxiety and result in a more deeply ingrained comfort habit

Remember, thumb-sucking is the earliest and most common habit for children, and odds are that your child will grow out of thumb-sucking naturally when he or she has developed other skills for dealing with stressful situations. Until that time, and with the help of your pediatric dentist Dr. Michelle Haghpanah, you can help your child break their thumb- sucking habit though positive reinforcement and gentle reminders.

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