How harmful is this habit & how can Gainesville Children’s Dentists Help?

Thumb sucking is an exceedingly common habit found in a majority of children at some phase of their childhood. This behavior stems from a natural sucking instinct that gives babies a sense of contentment, calm, and security – feelings which can follow a young child out of infancy. Often, this can help children to fall asleep as it helps them relax.

Unfortunately, this behavior can have serious consequences for their dental health. Thumb sucking can impact tooth alignment and healthy mouth growth during critical stages which, if not stopped before the permanent teeth grow in, can cause lifelong challenges. It is important that you help your child curb this behavior before that time. Most children will cease thumb sucking between the ages of two and four.

The extent of the damage is can generally be linked to the following factors:

  • How long the child has sucked their thumb
  • How intensely or passively they suck their thumb
  • How old the child is

It is important to bear in mind that pacifiers should not be used as an alternative to thumb sucking, as these will have the same impact on the growth of their mouth and teeth.

How to help your child stop sucking their thumb

At BGW Dental Group, we offer a variety of suggestions to help your child break the habit, such as:

  • Don’t forget that stress is almost always at the root of thumb sucking behaviors. By focusing on the cause of the anxiety and helping them to deal with it in a positive way, you can ease the need for a security measure
  • Provide them with alternatives for comfort, such as a favorite blanket or stuffed toy.
  • Consider rewarding the behavior you want to see, such as when they abstain from thumb sucking during challenging or stressful moments.
  • Have your child speak to their Gainesville dentist at BGW Dental Group. We can explain to them what could happen if they continue and give them ideas for other ways to manage their anxiety.
  • Particularly if your child is a nighttime thumb sucker, try putting mittens or gloves on their hands to prevent them from sucking their thumb.

If you need advice or assistance, call us today at (678) 582-8099. We are eager to help!