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Thumb Sucking and Your Child’s Teeth

Little asian baby biting plastic teether and looking at cameraIt’s kind of cute when babies and toddlers suck their thumbs – but as a parent you may be wondering if the habit is hurting how your child’s teeth are developing. And how long is too long for them to suck their thumbs? And how can you get them to stop? Read on for some information about the thumb sucking habit.

When should you put a stop to thumb sucking?

Babies and younger children use thumb sucking as a way to comfort themselves and to help during times of anxiety (you may have even seen some ultrasounds where the fetus is sucking his or her thumb!). However, these years are when the teeth are starting to come in, and thumb sucking can affect how the teeth grow in and even how the jaw develops. Thumb sucking can cause permanent teeth to become misaligned as it causes the front teeth grow in jutting forward.

How can you get your child to stop?

In the best case scenario, your child will stop on their own, as they notice that other children they are often around don’t suck their thumbs. However, as a parent, you probably know that things aren’t always that easy!

You can always try a reward system – even the act of putting stickers on a chart for the days they don’t suck their thumb can be encouraging. Then, of course, after a week or so of success stickers, they get an even better prize. You can also set up rules for thumb sucking, such as telling them they can only suck their thumb at bedtime, in the hopes of phasing out the practice. There are also kits available online to help your child break the habit. These include a thumb guard that will physically prevent your child from sucking their thumb.

Thumb sucking can be a difficult habit for your child to break – but it is an important step toward your child’s good oral health. If you are concerned about how your child’s teeth are developing, or if it’s just time for a teeth cleaning, contact Hampton Dental Associates. Call the office in Milwaukee at (414) 464-9021 for an appointment today!

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