Breaking the Thumb Sucking Habit

Most of the kids have the habit of thumb sucking. Some of them begin thumb sucking in their mother’s womb and perfect the habit as an infant. When a child is young, it’s normal to pop a finger or thumb in their mouth as a way to calm down, self-soothe, or fall asleep. Thumb sucking in young children is a normal response to anxiety and stress said by kids dentist.

At that age, there’s no harm in this habit. However, this behavior should gradually decrease by age 2-4 and must stop by age 5. Many children are slow to break the habit, which can lead to numerous oral issues that can affect them for years and years to come. Is it worth the stress to break the thumb sucking habit? Yes, because long-term thumb sucking can cause chewing difficulties, speech abnormalities, and dental problems. For that reason, it is important to break this habit — the sooner the better.

If you wait too long to stop the thumb and finger sucking, your child can have permanent changes in their jaw shape, bite, and teeth. Speech can also be affected and many thumb suckers may need speech therapy.

The longer a child is involved in thumb sucking the more harm is done to the teeth, palate and jaws. Thumb sucking makes front teeth move and can even reshape the jaw bone and palate. Upper front teeth flare out and tip upward while lower front teeth move back and inward.

Prolonged thumb or finger sucking easily deforms the bone around the upper and lower front teeth. The deformity produces a hole or gap when teeth are brought together, known as an open bite.

Do Home Remedies Work?

Some of the common home remedies include:

  • Placing gloves on your children before bedtime
  • Wrapping the thumb in a bandage or covering it with a sock
  • Praising your child when he or she does not thumb suck
  • Comforting your child during times of anxiety or stress
  • Painting thumbs and fingers with a bitter solution
  • Explaining that thumb sucking is only for young kids, and if they do it at kindergarten or school, they may get teased

Thumb sucking is a deep-rooted behavior and may need more than these remedies offer. The child’s desire to stop will determine the success of any method. Above all, being patient with your little one is a key and don’t be afraid to offer praise and maybe even a reward along the way!