2 July 2010
2 July 2010,

To soothe and feed themselves,infants have been born with the natural instinct to suck. Sucking may most often be on their thumb but also extends to a stuffed animal, blanket, or other fingers on the hand. Usually by the age of 4, the child has given up the habit.

Many undesirable effects can result from thumb sucking which continues too long including open-mouth breathing, problems with speech, crooked teeth and bite, and poor development of teeth and jaws. Other children may tease the child who continues to suck their thumb into school age and this could cause psychological problems.

Many parents of thumb suckers don’t know what they should do. One answer is to find a pacifier which is properly designed to fit the shape of an infant’s mouth. The advantage of pacifiers are many: they are easier to hide than a thumb, they are often given up by the child all on their own, and they cause fewer development problems with the teeth and jaws.

 If the child is older and only seems to suck their thunb during the day, you may be able to discourage the habit by talking about it with them. As a good reminder, a band-aid may be placed on their thumb. When you notice them refraining from putting their thumb in their mouth, give them positive praise. A small reward may reinforce their successful behavior. But of course if the thumb sucking is done during their sleep, the child is not aware of it and it becomes extremely difficult to control it.

Usually within two weeks, the following strategy to break the habit is successful. As it is time to go to bed, have your child extend their arm and wrap an ace bandage about 2 inches in width around it. The wrapping should start up at about 3 inches from the armpit and extend past the elbow. Your child will still be able to get their thumb into their mouth. But when they fall asleep with their thumb in their mouth, the bending of the elbow will create enough tension to pull their thumb out. If, by the age of 6 when their permanent touch emerge, your child is still sucking on anything, thumb included, please give us a call at at 949-769-4949 or contact us online at www.SmileAgainDentist.com and let us help.

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