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Thumb Sucking – Pelham, NH

Break the Habit & Keep Their Smile Safe

Toddler sucking their thumb before visiting Pelham pediatric dentist

When you picture your child sleeping peacefully, what do you see? Most parents imagine their little one slumbering peacefully while sucking on their thumb or finger. This adorable reflex is completely natural and often fades on its own over time. However, this habit can be rather persistent in some children, which can lead to oral development complications as their teeth start to come it. At Simply Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics, we can guide you to help them break the habit and keep their smile safe with several solutions that are proven to work.

What You Should Know About Thumb Sucking

Boy sucking thumb should see his Pelham pediatric dentist

Thumb sucking is a classic trademark of childhood, and for good reason! Experts estimate that about 80-90% of children will regularly suck their fingers or thumb at some point. In fact, some children even start this habit while still in the womb! Thumb sucking is a completely natural reflex that helps children comfort themselves, which is why so many fall asleep while sucking their thumb.

How Thumb Sucking Influences Your Child’s Oral Health

Girl smiles after visiting her Pelham pediatric dentist for thumb sucking

Typically, most children will stop sucking their thumb between the ages of two and four. While this habit is harmless at first, it can become a problem if it continues past the age of four or if they are sucking their thumb aggressively. The regular extra pressure in their mouth can interfere with their oral development and lead to issues like:

  • Bite alignment problems like overbite or crossbite.
  • Misalignment of permanent teeth.
  • Changes to the shape of the jaw and roof of the mouth.

If your son or daughter is still sucking their thumb or fingers when their permanent teeth begin to come in, it’s time to take action and see your Pelham pediatric dentist to protect their growing smile.

Tips for Breaking the Habit

Since many children suck their thumb when they’re anxious, getting them to stop can be a delicate task. Thankfully, our team has plenty of experience in this area and would be happy to share some tips with you to successfully help your little one break this habit. Here are a few strategies to make the process as smooth as possible:

  • Remember to stay positive and supportive. Encourage them as much as you can as you help them. Punishing or scolding your child will create more anxiety, which will make them more likely to suck their thumb or fingers!
  • Try putting a band-aid or sock over your little one’s hand at night. Make sure that they know this isn’t a punishment! Rather, it’s a gentle reminder that they shouldn’t suck on their thumb/ finger. You can even turn it into a game with a little creativity!
  • Create a rewards tracker. Make a calendar with your son or daughter. For every full day they go without sucking their thumb or fingers, give them a sticker. Set goals like a small toy or fun outing for them to work towards to keep them engaged in breaking the habit.
  • Take note of when your child sucks their thumb. Try to figure out what’s triggering this behavior and address it by helping them develop other coping mechanisms.