Phone (513) 251-5500

Posts Tagged ‘Personalized Care at Hagen Dental’

Thumb Sucking & Your Child’s Teeth: What We Want You To Know

Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

It’s normal to have concerns and worries when it comes to our kids! When it comes to thumb sucking or finger sucking, it’s no different! You may be wondering if it’s going to have lasting impact on their teeth, whether or not it is harmful, and how to encourage them to stop thumb sucking past a certain age! Let’s take a closer look.

what is normal when it comes to thumb sucking in our children

What’s ‘Normal’ When it Comes to Thumb Sucking?

The answer is, yes, it’s a normal part of our kids development! In fact, did you know that thumb sucking can often be seen in the womb as a baby develops? That just goes to show how natural it really is for our little ones.

Said another way, rest easy because thumb sucking (or finger sucking) is acceptable for infants!

As a natural reflex at that age, it helps to give your baby comfort and it can be soothing for them. When babies are away from parents, it can also show up more often, in some cases, since the baby is dealing with a bit more anxiety than normal. Last, you may notice your baby doing more thumb sucking when tired; that’s also normal because it can help induce sleep in our kids (1). The idea is to be mindful of their thumb sucking, but not to worry too much.

Thumb Sucking & Development

Most kids, between the ages of 2 and 4, start to give up pacifiers and thumb sucking. In many cases, pacifiers are easier to give up. In many cases, peer pressure also kicks in for the school-aged kids which helps them kick the tendency.

While you want to talk to your pediatrician, generally speaking, by age 4 you want to discourage thumb sucking. At this point, you don’t want excessive, rigorous thumb sucking to get in the way of jaw and teeth development (1, 2).

If The Habit Persists, Here Are the Oral Effects

For some kids, it helps them to know what the harmful side effects can be if they continue to suck their thumb past a certain age. At a certain age (approximately 5 or 6), the sucking motion can make the front teeth jut out. They can also impact the way your child bites and how the upper and lower teeth come together (or don’t come together!)

The takeaway: you don’t want any skeletal changes at this point in their life to kick in in a negative way, impacting the proper alignment of their permanent teeth (1). Be sure to ask us for information specific to your child.

steps to cut down on thumb sucking

Steps for Cutting Down on Thumb Sucking

Even if your child is around the age of four, it’s not always room for concern. Often times, parents have success just by ignoring the behavior!

As said, many times social settings help kids to naturally kick the habit, which helps as they age.

Of course nagging our kids to stop doesn’t necessarily help! A few ways to help your child with prolonged or rigorous thumb sucking past a certain age include:

  • Dig deeper. Learn more about the times of day when thumb sucking kicks in; if it’s night time or a certain time where anxiety is high, explore what you can do during those times to comfort your child. Of course you never want to shame your child, but this can help make sure you know more about why they are turning to this habit.
  • Use rewards. A reward system to help track progress when encouraging them to stop can help in some cases!
  • Try praise, too. Praising and encouraging your child when you see less of the behavior is always a good idea.
  • Take advantage of your care team. While we know you know your child best, ask us for other ways to help! We can also explain to your child what happens if they keep sucking their thumbs. We won’t scare them, but it can help them to have someone else – other than their parents – explain how this habit can hurt their teeth. You can also visit your pediatrician to get guidelines specific to your child (1, 2).

Earning Your Trust With Personalized Care at Hagen Dental

We believe the best dentistry will happen when there is a bond of trust with each patient! We’re pleased to provide a full range of dental care services to you and your entire family. Give us a call today at (513) 251-5500 or click the Online Scheduling button to schedule your next visit!

Sources

  1. https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/life-stages/childrens-oral-care/thumb-sucking-the-good-the-bad-and-the-normal-0514
  2. http://www.dentistryforchildrennw.com/treatment/thumb-sucking-and-your-child-s-teeth