How To Stop Your Child From A Thumb-Sucking Habit
How To Stop Your Child From A Thumb-Sucking Habit
Young children and babies learn to suck their thumb as a natural reflex. It becomes innate behavior because they had to suckle their milk to get nutrition when they were young. It is a self-soothing behavior and can stay with them as they grow. At first, this habit may seem harmless, but it can eventually lead to a changing mouth shape, which creates an overbite. If your child doesn’t break this habit before their permanent teeth come in, there is a chance that their palate may need correcting along with braces to straighten their teeth.
Ways to Help Your Child Stop The Habit:
- Use positive reinforcement. Always praise and reward your child when they don’t suck their thumb – this can be done through reward charts or gentle reminders.
- Keep the hands busy and provide distraction. You won’t be able to keep your child distracted at all times, but this can work in conjunction with other methods. These methods can include: Using fidget toys, arts and crafts, dancing, writing, jewelry making, sports, baking, baking, etc.
- Thumb guards. Thumb guards can be a great solution for your child because it allows them to still engage in daily activities without much difficulty. The sides of the thumbguard have air holes so your child cannot create suction when trying to suck it. Your pediatric dentist may have suggestions as to what brand to use.
Always remember to praise your child and not ridicule or make them feel bad for this behavior – the damage of doing this can be lifelong and could do nothing to help them. In order for your child to break their thumb-sucking habit, you’ll need to keep it positive and upbeat to encourage them.
At Grin Pediatric Dentistry we work with you and your child to break their thumb-sucking habits. We know that once it becomes a habit, it is very hard to break. With the use of positive reinforcement, healthy distractions, and thumb guards, we can help stop your child from sucking their thumb.
How to Encourage Your Child To Develop Healthy Dental Habits
Teaching how to develop good dental habits in children is essential in ensuring children are set for a lifetime of healthy smiles. At Grin Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics, we have the resources and tips to make your little ones excited about taking care of their teeth!
When Should Dental Hygiene Practices Start?
Taking care of your baby’s teeth should begin on day one. After your baby has finished eating, it is important to wipe their gums off with a washcloth and warm water.
As your baby grows and begins teething and eating solids, begin using a silicone finger brush and warm water after each meal. Once your baby’s first tooth has erupted, you can begin placing a small amount of fluoride toothpaste (no larger than a grain of rice) on their toothbrush and brush twice a day.
Schedule your baby’s first pediatric dental appointment between when their first tooth appears, between 6 and 8 months, and their first birthday. The dentist will perform a thorough exam to make sure your child’s teeth, gums, and mouth are healthy. This will also help your child become familiar with the sights and sounds of the dentist.
How To Make Dental Care Exciting:
Let Them Pick Out A Special Toothbrush and Other Products:
Many department and retail stores carry unique, colored and character toothbrushes. Bringing your child to the store and letting them pick out their own toothbrush will make them want to brush their teeth more often as they’ll be excited to use their very own special toothbrush. Just be sure to buy a soft-bristled toothbrush. Let them choose their own toothpaste while they’re at it! They can choose from exciting flavors like strawberry and bubblegum!
Play Dental Games:
Download kid-friendly oral health apps from the App-Store that have educational games to teach about flossing and brushing. These games will make kids excited to practice the skills they learned on their own teeth. You can also encourage them to play pretend and be a dentist for their stuffed animals by practicing brushing and flossing the toy’s teeth. You can also turn brushing into a game with plaque disclosing tablets- have your age appropriate child chew one of these tablets to color all the plaque on their teeth, then see how much of the plaque they can remove by brushing!
Play Music or Use a Fun Timer:
Play your child’s favorite song or some upbeat music while they brush their teeth. Doing so will encourage them to brush for the full 2 minutes. There are also kid-friendly timers you can download in the App-Store that allow kids to pick out a certain theme or character that pops up when the timer goes off!
With these tips, you’re sure to get your child excited about taking care of their mouth. Solidifying these habits with your kids now is key in making sure they’re set for a lifetime of healthy smiles! To learn more about caring for your child’s teeth, visit the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry for more resources. Contact our office to set up a dental appointment for your little one today!