by Lori Herren May 14, 2020 4 min read

As a parent, you sacrifice everything to make sure your child has what they need to be healthy and happy. Their health and happiness equals your health and happiness, in so many different ways. As infants, they need and find things to soothe them in their times of distress. They look to caregivers first for that but naturally learn to find ways to cope and learn to soothe themselves. One of the most normal ways of comfort babies tend to find is sucking their thumb. Even in utero you will see an ultrasound picture of a baby sucking their thumb. It’s a natural way to calm and ease their anxiety. Babies are created with natural sucking tendencies, it’s how they will get their nourishment once they are born, and it brings them comfort even when they are not hungry but know they need some reassurance.

From The Thumb To The Orthodontist?

Thumbsucking is completely common for little ones, so if your baby sucks their thumb right now, don't fret! At what point does it really become an issue? It becomes an issue if the habit intensifies and your child carries thumbsucking into their childhood years. If the habit continues once their permanent teeth come in, it can cause their teeth to shift around, possibly causing an overbite or an underbite. It can also alter the roof of the mouth. In some cases the front teeth can be pushed forward, sticking out and appear out of alignment. This can leave the teeth open bite, causing a gap in front. As a parent, you know how important healthy teeth are to their overall health and future, so it’s time to find the best ways to break the habit! As their permanent teeth emerge, continued thumbsucking may cause a change in the formation of the roof of the mouth (palate) and how their teeth will line up in their mouth. The greater the amount of time and intensity of thumbsucking, the greater the potential damage to your child's teeth.

Don't Give Up Hope!

So many children suck their thumbs and quit the habit on their own by the time they reach 6 or 7 months old. Those children that carry it into the toddler years often stop thumb sucking between 2 and 4 years old. For those that seemed determined to suck their thumbs into adulthood, don't worry! There are several methods you can try to help break the habit. You will be the best determining factor as to which method works best for your own child.

 

Helpful Solutions!

The American Dental Association (mouthhealthy.org) encourages you to praise your child when they don't suck their thumb. Praise them verbally and back that up with rewards, things that they like or enjoy, things that are important to them. Sometimes your child sucks their thumb from a lack of security or because of anxiety. Take special time to help get to the root of what's causing them to turn to their thumb when they are needing comfort. If your child is on the older side, ask their advice on what would help them best to stop sucking their thumb and let them help choose the best way to stop and the reward that means the most to them. A method long used to get children to stop sucking their thumb is bandaging their thumb with band-aids or using socks to cover up the thumb. And we all know about moms who put nasty tasting medicines or other substances to stop thumb sucking. Another good help tip from the ADA is to let your dentist have a conversation with your child about how this habit can hurt their mouth and teeth in the future and all that they would have to go through later as a result of continuing to suck their thumb.

Making A Problem Into A Life-Long Practice!

A productive way to help your child in their dental health journey is to make brushing and flossing their teeth fun. Emphasize how important it is to take care of your teeth but back up your words by showing them how fun it can be. Some great dental products to effectively clean their entire mouth and bring fun to brushing is the Brilliant Baby Toothbrush. It is soft and easy to use and created for babies 4-24 months of age to successfully brush their first few teeth. The round brush head allows it to clean everywhere it goes. Your child will want to brush and love to brush. Brushing with kids can be a challenge, and you want the brush that will end the battle. It won’t hurt their mouths, and it’ll save you time. For older kids, when your child has moved on from a few baby teeth to a full set of teeth - twenty to be exact, they’ll need a slightly firmer toothbrush, yet gentle enough for their needs. At this stage, your child will want more independence in their brushing routine, and the Brilliant Child Toothbrush is the perfect training toothbrush. Recommended for ages 2 and up. Another solid brush with fun characters and training lights and sounds is the Brilliant Kids Sonic Toothbrush. These brushes are made of cute, cuddly characters that help make brushing fun. The Brilliant Kids Sonic Toothbrush comes with our patented round brush head, a bright LED mouth-illuminating light, and a gentle, battery-powered sonic motor. The brush head contains over 16,000 bristles that clean everywhere in every direction, removing 2x more plaque than ordinary flat toothbrushes. Gentle sonic waves produce Brilliant Bubbles to further remove plaque and help destroy harmful bacteria. You’ll be amazed how well it cleans their teeth and they will be amazed at how much fun they have brushing!

Don't become discouraged and lose heart if you child is a thumbsucker. Each child goes through their own set of challenges. You are not alone, all parents face difficult times in the journey that is parenthood. Once you realize it's quite common, you will see all the helpful solutions that you can try to help your child conquer this challenge. There's always going to be obstacles to overcome, but finding the best option for your child is a journey where you learn the greatest life lessons!

Lori Herren
Lori Herren

Lori D. Herren is a graduate of the University of West Georgia where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications for Broadcast Journalism and Public Relations, with minors in Marketing and Music. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends and pursuing her love of music.


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