Why a Kid Friendly Dentist Discourages Thumb Sucking

Kid Friendly Dentist Richmond, TX

A kid friendly dentist in Richmond may tell parents during dental appointments that they should stop children from sucking their thumbs, and that is for a good reason. Children tend to suck their fingers and toes to soothe themselves, and it is called non-nutritive sucking. Continue reading to find out why a kid friendly dentist discourages this habit.

What is thumb sucking?

Almost all newborn babies suck their thumb or one of their fingers after birth. It is harmless and one of the most common habits among children worldwide. Experts at the Mayo Clinic think that thumb sucking is a natural response in toddlers and infants, which serves as a coping mechanism for anxiety. Babies feel happy, comfortable, and secure when sucking their fingers.

The practice is normal when the child is still under four years old, but it becomes a problem if the child does not stop the habit after turning five.

Why thumb sucking is bad

The kid friendly dentist will advise parents to discourage their kids from the habit once the child is four years old. Thumb sucking beyond this age can have an adverse effect on their oral health. It can cause teeth misalignment, bite problems due to issues with the roof of the mouth, and problems with mouth and jaw formation. Parents may struggle to wean their children from this act. Eventually, a dentist’s intervention might be necessary.

The pressure created by sucking can start to produce harmful effects on the child’s teeth starting at the age of five or six. The teeth in the front row may jut out, and the upper and lower front teeth will stop meeting, leading to an incorrect or open bite. If neglected, these changes may create teeth alignment issues when the permanent teeth start coming in.

To prevent improper jaw formation, bite misalignment in younger children requires prompt evaluation by a kid friendly dentist. A bite problem is easier to correct if intervention occurs at an early age. In severe cases, a kid friendly dentists may suggest fitting a dental appliance, like a crib, over the roof of the mouth to discourage the child from sucking their fingers.

Many parents are not aware of these harmful effects of thumb sucking. Aside from misaligned teeth, a malformed mouth roof, overbite, misaligned jaw, and challenges with pronunciation are a few of the issues that can be caused by thumb sucking in children. It can have lifelong effects on a child who continues the habit after turning five. Correcting the problem typically requires costly dental procedures, often including orthodontic treatment.

Stopping the habit

Even though thumb sucking is common, it will need to be prevented or discouraged. If a baby is sucking on their thumb or fingers, parents should try to distract them by offering a pacifier instead. It is easier to stop pacifier use at the right age.

While most children will quit sucking their thumbs as they become older due to peer pressure and other social cues, parents should intervene if their child continues to do so despite these signals. Many children can control their impulse to suck on their thumb once they learn of the harmful effects.

The use of a reward system can be quite motivating. For instance, parents may keep track of the number of days that their child has gone without sucking their thumb and award the child with a sticker. Another option is to wrap the thumb or hand in a bandage, sock, or glove. If the child has gone without thumb-sucking for a certain number of days, parents can give them a greater reward as a way to say goodbye to the practice.

Positive reinforcement and consistent encouragement are essential in raising a healthy, happy child. Stress brought on by anticipating a negative response to the conduct or being criticized for it may cause the child to keep engaging in the habit. Positive reinforcement throughout this process should help the child let go of the behavior more easily.

Breaking habits is challenging, though. Parents also need to observe the child and identify the triggers for the behavior. It will be easier to stop once the underlying cause of the habit is addressed. A kid friendly dentist can help parents out if necessary.

In conclusion

If a child is struggling with thumb sucking, it is important to take proactive measures to stop the habit. Parents can also ask a kid friendly dentist for advice.

Request an appointment here: https://www.grandparkwaypediatricdental.com or call Grand Parkway Pediatric Dental at (832) 579-0960 for an appointment in our Richmond office.

Check out what others are saying about our dental services on Yelp: Kid Friendly Dentist in Richmond, TX.

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