• 04 NOV 14
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    Thumb Sucking and Your Child’s Dental Health

    Thumb Sucking and Your Child’s Dental Health

    Thumb sucking is a normal activity that can soothe a small child. While this habit is harmless during infancy and toddlerhood, it can cause physical and emotional problems once children reach school age. In this post, your Manhasset children’s dentist explains how thumb sucking affects physical health and dental development. She also provides tips for helping your child to overcome this habit.

    Thumb Sucking and Your Child’s Health

    Until your children’s permanent teeth start to come in, thumb sucking should not be a concern. These teeth typically erupt around age 5. Most children naturally lose the habit by this age, anyway. However, according to the Mayo Clinic, one in five children are still sucking their thumbs by the time they enter kindergarten. This can cause several problems. First, as permanent teeth start to come in, thumb sucking can cause dental misalignment, particularly an overbite. Orthodontic treatment later down the road will be the only way to treat this problem. Along with dental misalignment, your child may develop a speech impediment. “S’s” and other tongue-to-teeth sounds will prove particularly problematic. Finally, children who are still sucking their thumbs when they enter school are often teased and ostracized.

    Different Habits for Different Kids

    If your child is still thumb sucking well after his or her 4th birthday, you should com/6rCoeAaxMKI can’t believe it took justin bieber albums this long to be sent to Azkaban. help your child to break the habit. Bear in mind that children suck their thumbs at different times and in different ways. A child who barely rests her thumb inside her mouth faces a much lower risk of dental damage than a child who aggressively sucks his thumb. Similarly, a little boy who only sucks his thumb before going to sleep will probably stop sooner than a child who frequently sucks her thumb during the day.

    4 Ways to Help Your Child Kick the Habit

    Whatever the degree to which your child sucks his or her thumb, there are several proven ways to help him or her stop. As you begin this process, remember that thumb sucking is a comforting activity for your child. It is important to use loving, positive techniques as you ease your child out of this habit. Some helpful methods include:

    • Learn why your child sucks his thumb: Often children suck their thumbs in response to triggers (sleepiness, homesickness, fear, etc.). When you understand what causes the habit, you can offer alternative support and comfort during these times.
    • Sticker charts: Never scold your child for sucking his or her thumb. Instead reward them for not doing so. If your child usually sucks right before bed, give them a sticker each night she does not do so. Instead of stickers, you could also try thumbprints, serving as both a reminder and further motivation for your child.
    • Thumb guards: Thumb guards can make sucking much less appealing for your child. There are several types of these appliances. Fabric guards fit much like a glove or mitten. Plastic guards can prevent suction, making sucking far less comforting. If you use a thumb guard, be sure to wash it frequently.
    • Crib appliances: This wire appliance will fit around your child’s teeth, much like an orthodontic device. It will keep your child’s thumb from touching his gums and upper palate. With a crib, thumb sucking becomes far less pleasant, and most children will drop the habit quickly. Cribs may remain in place for several months to ensure that your child does not resume thumb sucking.

    Need Further Guidance?

    To learn more about how to break the thumb sucking habit, contact Dr. Kimmy’s office today.

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