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Can Thumb Sucking Damage A Child’s Teeth?

Thumb sucking is a cute and endearing quality of childhood! Many parents feel that since thumb sucking keeps a child comforted, and quiet, it’s not a habit that needs to be addressed. Unfortunately, there is a correlation between thumb sucking and future dental problems for your little one!

If thumb sucking occurs past age 2, this can cause an “open bite.” This is when the roof of your child’s mouth (known as their palate) becomes overly arched. An open bite will also cause the front teeth to protrude, causing bite problems and speech issues. Once the shape of the mouth is affected like this, the likelihood that your child will eventually need costly orthodontic treatment increases greatly.

Helping Your Child Kick Their Thumb Sucking Habit

  • Sticker Charts – Kids love sticker charts! It’s helpful for potty training, chores, and even helping your child to stop sucking their thumb. Allow your child to earn a sticker for every hour or day they go without sucking his or her thumb. Once the chart is full, offer a reward as an incentive to fill up the chart again!
  • Keep Your Child’s Hands Busy – Thumb sucking is often done out of boredom or stress. By keeping your child’s hands (and mind!) busy, you can lessen the frequency of thumb sucking. Some ideas include puzzles, play-doh, writing or coloring, or board games.
  • Cover Their Hands – During nighttime hours your child may subconsciously suck their thumb. You can stop this by putting band-aids, gloves, or even socks on your child’s hands before bed.
  • Use Positive Reinforcement – Instead of punishing your child when he or she engages in thumb sucking, it’s much more effective to praise them when they don’t.

If your child sucks his or her thumb and you’re concerned that it may be affecting their oral health, please don’t hesitate to contact Little Rockies Pediatric Dentistry here in Dover, New Hampshire! We’d be happy to offer further advice or solutions!

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