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Thumb-Sucking Habits Don’t Have to be Hard to Break | Rancho Cucamonga Pediatric Dentistry

Orthodontist in Rancho Cucamonga


Thumb sucking can be one of the most comforting childhood activities, along with blankets, teddy bears, and naps. A recent report stated that between 75% and 95% of infants suck their thumbs, so chances are there’s a thumb sucker (or a former thumb sucker) in your family. Is this something to worry about?

Most of the time, the answer is no. You should, however, pay attention to your child’s habits in case they affect their overall oral health.

What are the typical thumb-sucking behaviors?
Most children begin sucking their thumbs or fingers at an early age; some even begin while in the womb. Sucking is a natural reflex for an infant and serves a very important function. Sucking gives a child a sense of security and contentment. Many children suck their thumbs before falling asleep because it can also be relaxing.

The American Dental Association reports that children usually stop thumb-sucking on their own between the ages of two and four. They simply grow out of an old habit that no longer serves them. Some children continue sucking beyond the preschool years (although studies indicate that the older a child gets, the less likely they are to continue the habit). If your child is still sucking their thumb when their permanent teeth start to appear, it may be time for you to intervene.

What are the signs to watch for?
You should first pay attention to how your child sucks his or her thumb. When the thumb is gently placed inside the mouth while sucking, it is less likely to cause injury. On the other hand, thumb sucking that is aggressive may place pressure on the mouth or teeth, causing problems with tooth alignment and proper mouth growth. Extended sucking affects both the teeth and the shape of the face and may require orthodontic treatment in the future.

If at any time you suspect your child’s thumb-sucking may be affecting his or her oral health, our children’s dental and orthodontic office can help with suggestions.

What can I do to help my child stop thumb sucking?
In order to help your child stop the habit, follow these helpful guidelines:

  • Always be positive and supportive. Rather than punishing your child for thumb-sucking, praise him or her when they don’t.
  • Put a band-aid on your child’s thumb or a sock on their hand at night. Assure your little one that this is not punishment, but rather a way to help prevent him or her from sucking their thumb.
  • Create a progress chart for your child and let him/her put a sticker on each day that he or she doesn’t suck. If your child goes a week without sucking, he or she gets to pick a prize. By the end of the entire month, reward your child with something great (a toy or new video game); by then the habit should be gone. Making your child an active participant in his or her treatment will increase the likelihood of them breaking the habit.
  • Instead of focusing on your child’s thumb sucking when he or she is anxious, work on relieving the anxiety.
  • Create distractions during the times your child tends to suck (long car rides, while watching movies).
  • Describe what might happen to a child’s teeth if they continue sucking their thumb.

You should always remember that your child needs your support and understanding during the process of breaking the habit of thumb-sucking.

You can schedule an appointment with our children’s dental and orthodontics office for more information on how you can effectively help your child break the habit of thumb sucking. Call us today!

Sweet Tooth Orthodontics & Children’s Dentistry
Phone: 9099897222
6331 Haven Ave Suite 12
Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91737

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Kid’s Dentist in Rancho Cucamonga

Sweet Tooth Orthodontics & Children’s Dentistry

6331 Haven Ave Suite 12
Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91737

(909) 989-7222

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