Parents are constantly telling their kids to keep their busy hands out of their mouths. After all, think about all the germs that are cover everything your child encounters. It’s almost like a slow-motion horror scene when you watch their little thumb pop into their mouth when you’re out in public.
Then again, there’s the solace that’s found when your child quietly sucks on their thumb—keyword being quiet. Although moments of silence are rare and should be cherished, your dentist is here to share why you should get your child to kick their thumb sucking habit right away.
The Truth about Thumbs and Teeth
Relying on other things to soothe your child rather than self-soothing practices can actually influence the shape of your child’s mouth and the alignment of their teeth. Since baby’s and toddler’s mouths mature physically at a quick pace, their jaws may grow around anything that’s consistently in their mouth.
As the upper front develop, they may form around the thumb, causing misalignment and even protruding teeth. Problems with tooth position and jaw alignment could also occur. For instance, your child’s teeth may not meet when the mouth closes or changes may occur on the roof of their mouth. All of these are issues that could lead to other dental issues as they become older. The good news is that they are completely avoidable.
Avoid These Dental Problems
There’s no denying that the calmness associated with thumb sucking can be beneficial to both young children and parents. It’s still recommended that by the age of 2, you discourage thumb sucking at home. After your child is older than 6 months old, pacifiers are more for your child to cope rather than to sooth. Not only is this unsafe for their oral health, but there are better ways for your child to adjust to discomfort.
Help Your Child Break the Habit
There are a few ways that you can help your child gradually stop their thumb sucking habit.
Positive reinforcement is one of the best ways to break a bad habit and encourage a new one. Whenever you see your child not sucking their thumb, shower them with excited praise and compliments.
A helpful tip to remember is that it won’t help to punish your child when they suck their thumb. In fact, they could turn towards their thumb more often to deal with the stress of the punishment.
Some children can use a few extra cuddles to help with their stress or discomfort. This could help them drop their thumb sucking habit and turn to their parents more often for help—which is definitely better for their teeth!
Overall, remember that your child depends on you to lead the way when it comes to good decision making and great health. Even if they resist, stopping their thumb sucking habit early is best for them.
About Our Office
Our knowledgeable team at Paraiso Family Dental & Orthodontics are happy to offer comprehensive dental care for patients from the time they start developing their first teeth. Your child needs a trusted dentist like Dr. Gary Chaffee to walk through your child’s development step by step with you. Get the dental care you and your family deserve when you choose to call our office.