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Is Thumb-Sucking Bad for Your Child’s Oral Health?

Is Thumb-Sucking Bad for Your Child’s Oral Health?

Since it´s a habit that can start even when they´re still in their mother´s womb, Thumb-sucking might be considered a natural reflex for children.

Parents of thumb-sucking children are often concerned about their children´s oral health and the possible long-lasting complications this habit might cause them. 

If that´s your case and you´re wondering how thumb-sucking affects your child´s oral health, worry no more.

Here, we´ll talk about all there´s to know about thumb-sucking. Is Thumb-sucking normal? Will it become a problem? Stay with us to find out all this (and more).

Thumb-Sucking, 4 Useful Tips

Is thumb-sucking normal?

Putting fingers/objects in their mouths is the most natural way small children have for exploring, understanding, and integrate their surrounding world. Also, many children use thumb-sucking as a self-comforting source.

However, depending on the children´s age and the intensity of their thumb-sucking, it might be considered a not-so-normal habit.

Thumb-sucking only becomes a problem (causing the appearance of oral health complications) when it´s done for a prolonged period and lasts well-beyond infancy.

Chronic thumb-sucking is often associated with oral/dental issues such as speech problems, a misaligned bite, palate issues, and overbite.

When should thumb-sucking stop?

Thumb-sucking-related problems often arise when children do it way past their five years. At this point, thumb-sucking can start producing some of the previously-mentioned oral health issues.

There´s no exact age to stop thumb-sucking. Nonetheless, it´s recommended to gently discourage this behaviour earlier, thus preventing it from becoming too deeply engrained.

If you notice changes in your child´s teeth/bite alignment, maybe it´s time to visit a pediatric dentist. They´ll give you expert insight for helping your kid grow out of this habit.

Tips for helping your child stop thumb-sucking

First and foremost, shaming and punishing children for thumb-sucking is not the way to go. It will only produce more stress and increase their thumb-sucking habit.

Instead, focus on reinforcing healthier behaviours. Encourage your kid to replace thumb-sucking with another stress-coping mechanism like holding a blanket or stuffed animal.

Reward/praise your kids whenever they avoid thumb-sucking to manage stress. Also, covering their hand at night with a sock will help them gradually stop this habit.

Oral health matters (even at a young age)

Teaching children how to care for their oral health is the best way to keep them away from future painful treatments.

It also sets them up to keep healthy, beautiful teeth for life, thus boosting their self-esteem and overall confidence.

Assessing your children´s oral health is one of the best gifts you can give them. They might not understand it now, but rest assured, they´ll thank you later in life.

As we discussed earlier, thumb-sucking is a usual self-soothing behaviour. Still, worrying about your child´s thumb-sucking habit is also natural. 

Note that every child is different, and each case requires its approach. Some children benefit from positive reinforcement, while others learn their lessons better from discouragement.

Whatever the case, be patient. More stress only increases a child´s thumb-sucking urge, and a kinder approach will improve your chances for success.

Are you still worried about your child’s oral health? Contact us. Our pediatric dentist´s team will expertly guide you on how you can better care for your children´s teeth.

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