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How to Break a Thumb Sucking Habit

Wondering how to break a thumbsucker habit? Worried about your child's front teeth and upper teeth? Don't worry, here are some tips to help.

75 percent of babies develop the habit of sucking their thumb during their first year. This task gives a sense of security, happiness, helps them explore their new world, and can help them fall asleep. Children continue to suck their thumbs, particularly during stressful times or when around strangers, up to preschool years. By the time they reach five years old, only one in five children continue to suck their thumbs or fingers.

However, despite the security and happiness it gives children, sucking thumbs can pose problems with the proper growth of the mouth and teeth. The pressure can lead to crooked front teeth, resulting in an overbite, along with general bite and spacing problems. In severe cases, the shift of the teeth can misshape the face or lead to difficulty in eating and speaking.

What to Do if My Child is Still Sucking Their Thumb After 5 Years? 

The American Dental Association says it’s a gradual process. In fact, too much pressure can do more harm than good to their personalities. 

Breaking the Habit

Positive affirmationBaby pacifier use

One of the ways you can encourage your child to stop the habit is to commend them when they aren’t sucking their thumb. For some children, thumbsucking can be a positive experience. And, often, the only way to offset this is to provide a better experience. Praise from a parent or loved one for not thumbsucking can be a good start.

Taking note of the times they suck their thumbs

In other cases, thumbsucking can be a coping mechanism. Sometimes when your child is in an anxious state or generally feeling uncomfortable, they might turn to it as a form of comfort. When this happens, then, try to take note of when or where they feel the need to suck their thumb. Instead of turning to sucking their thumb, create an opportunity to forge stronger bonds with your child by tending to their needs.  

Having a talk with their pediatric dentist

When it comes to breaking a bad habit—particularly thumbsucking—your child’s pediatric dentist plays a significant role, especially in ensuring the proper development of their front teeth and upper teeth. Having them talk with their pediatric dentist might be able to help them break the habit and make them more familiar with the dental office.  

Keep your child busy

Children often turn to sucking their thumb when they’re bored, indirectly distracting him or her. Instead, provide them with simple activities to drift their thoughts away from this bad habit.

Reward your child

Encourage your kid to stop thumb-sucking by giving them appropriate rewards for his progress. Also, keep a progress chart so that your child can see how far he or she has come. A progress chart can help keep them motivated through the process.

Because thumb-sucking is a habit, it can take a while to stop completely. Allow your child to let go of his or her habit gradually. Every child is different.

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