Is Thumb Sucking Bad

For generations, parents have heard that they should not let their children suck their thumbs. But why? Find out the facts about why kids suck their thumbs when it is considered a problem and how you can help your child break the habit.

It’s Natural 
Babies are born with the instinct to suck. Not only is it how they eat for a very significant portion of their newborn lives, but it is also soothing. That urge to suck or suckle carries over from infanthood into older babies, toddlers, and children. Many children begin to suck their thumbs as a replacement for a pacifier.

When Should They Stop?
According to the American Dental Association, most children will stop sucking their thumbs between the ages of two and four. Sometimes this behavior will be dropped on its own by the child and sometimes the parents may have to help break the habit. It is common for children to return to thumb-sucking when stressed, anxious, or when trying to fall asleep.

Is it Safe? 
There are no health concerns that come directly from thumb sucking itself. But it is important to remember to frequently wash your child’s hands if they are a thumb sucker, to discourage germs from entering their mouths.

Dental Concerns
The biggest dental concern about thumb sucking comes from prolonged behavior. The effects of thumb sucking become more worrisome for children whose permanent teeth have already erupted. Possible concerns include:
·      Misaligned bite
·      Palate issues
·      Speech problems
·      Overbite or overjet

How to Stop 
Because thumb sucking is often a soothing mechanism, try to introduce or reinforce other behaviors your child uses to self-soothe. Snuggling a stuffed animal or their blanket might be a great replacement for thumb sucking. Some other ideas include:
·      Keeping a reward chart with stickers and setting goals with rewards.
·      Avoid shaming or harshly punishing your child for thumb sucking, as it may increase stress and their need to soothe themselves.
·      Reinforce healthy behaviors with praise and rewards.
·      Talk about the negative effects of thumb sucking and why it’s an important habit to grow out of.
·      Help your child with healthy coping mechanisms for stress or discomfort.

If You’re Concerned 
We know that stopping thumb sucking can be stressful for both parents and children. Remember that if you’re reading this blog, you’re already taking steps to help your child because you love and care about them. Breaking a habit is tough, so give yourself and your child plenty of patience. And remember if you are ever concerned or have questions, Dr. Cruise and our team are here to help! Never hesitate to contact us.

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