Stopping the Thumb Sucking Habit today: Here is what you need to know!

Stopping the Thumb Sucking Habit today: Here is what you need to know!

Does your child suck his or her thumb? Does it drive you mad to see that? Clueless how to have this habit a thing of the past?

Stopping the Thumb Sucking Habit today: Here is what you need to know!

Keep on reading ! Don’t worry!

Here is what you need to know first:

Natural reflex innately found in children that gives them a feeling of safety and satisfaction. sometimes even happiness. The great news is that this habit is not a problem in the early stages of life.

According to the American Dental Association, most children naturally stop sucking at the age of 2. As psychology explains as the child crosses the second year they tend to spend more of their waking hours discovering their surroundings playing and learning. This is the normal transition from infancy to early childhood and this leads to decreasing or minimizing the importance of thumb sucking for most children!

However, some children stick to it beyond 4 years of age, the stronger the thumb sucking in a child, the greater the problem and here is where problems can happen:

  • Teeth malalignment:

When a child applies too much force when sucking the thumb! the teeth can become misaligned which results in an anterior open bite.

  • Jaw growth:

The more the child practices the habit! signals are conducted to the jaw and this alters the relationship between the top and the bottom jaw which may lead to posterior cross bite.

  • Addiction:

The more the child is used to the habit it becomes ingrained in the mind as a pleasure habit and becomes even more difficult to quit.

  • Callus:

The finger easily develops a callus that takes time for it to heal after the habit is stop.

What are the tips that you can follow to help your child get rid of finger sucking you ask?

Usually, even if it takes them a bit more time to, children stop sucking their finger by themselves before the age of five. Therefore, the timing of parental intervention is very important. Parents should not force the child to stop this habit at the time when the child feels the “need” to suck.

Here are 12 tips to help your child get rid of this habit:

  • Meet the Expert:

Book an appointment with your favorite Pediatric dentist to talk about your child’s habit and evaluate how urgent it is to quit the habit. Your pediatrician dentist can advise of some tips and tricks for your child’s dental care and can encourage the child to stop the habit by explaining the effects of this habit on the teeth and the jaws. 

Most kids just get it when the dentist says it. believe it or not- most! A specialist dentist will be explaining in childish!

  • Understanding:

Children usually suck their fingers when they lose a sense of security or comfort, so be sure to know the causes of your child’s concern in order to provide comfort and stability for him/ her. This is key advice since if we unlock the cause, the solution will be easy peasy.

  • Communicate:

If the child is old enough, get him into solutions that may help him to give up the habit!

  • Praise:

Be sure to praise your child when he does not suck his finger.

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  • Avoid:

Do not make fun from older children who suck their fingers. This is interpreted as blame in the child’s mouth and this sense of guilt promotes rather than stops the habit- which then is a chronic cycle! It is best to advice f relatives and friends to ignore and turn a blind eye to this habit in front of the child as well. Praise when they are not sucking the thumb and ignore if they are.

  • Positive Reinforcement:

Child motivation and remuneration help to create new behaviors, so be sure to find different ways to motivate your child to let go of this habit. For example, you can use a stop thumb sucking chart – Download – to keep up with your child’s progress each month, so that the child gets a small gift for every three days spent without sucking the thumb. If he/she stops sucking his finger for seven consecutive days, this means it is time for a big great reward. Encourage the child to continue this for 30 days (which is enough for the brain to quit the habit) and of course to earn the ultimate gift of gifts- that can keep the child motivated for this long.

  • Use the timer:

Sometimes the child still has the need and the urge to suck, how about we agree that “it is okay to” but at a specific time and places and you can even use a timer to calculate the time. Your aim is to reduce the habit by 10% per day!

  • Implement a Fine:

A payment of some sorts if the child wanted to suck his thumb or finger at other times and places specified (but of course avoid reprimand and blame). For example, ask the child to pay one dirham of his savings or to give up an activity, he likes for a specific time, or you can take off one of the stickers from the motivation chart.

  • Offer alternative activities that require the use of both hands (such as rope laces, basketball, piano, card games, dolls dress-up, drawing). It’s preferable that Parents do these activities with the child on a daily basis to make the habit less and less engraved in the brain!
  • If all else fails:

If these steps do not work out to help the child, you can put a band aid on the finger or cover your child’s hand with a sock to help him stop his finger sucking at night.

  • Medicine?

A pediatrician or a Pediatric dentist may prescribe a bitter medicine to paint your child’s finger.

  • Appliance therapy:

If all else fails and your child’s condition is not improving within a month and two consults with your dentist for kids. Children Dentist help with placing a habit breaker which is a form of orthodontic appliance to help stop the pleasure center in the brain derived from doing the habit.

I honestly am not a big fan of advice number 10 through 12, I always approach kids with a touch of creative psychology and never have resorted to even appliance therapy so far! I believe in conversing with children and adding them as partners to the journey of care for their teeth. This has given me so many amazing results in the past!

My advice is to have patience and to not put a deadline, stopping habits may (or may not) take time, but you know what: that is all what we have: time.

Hope this helps and do get in touch with your queries or opinions about the blog. If you are still concerned about the thumb sucking habit please do come to see our pediatric dentistry clinic in Dubai Health Care City. We can help you with your child dental care needs and whether your child needs a dentist for toddlers or you need some advice about children’s dental health; we are here to help.

“To a lifetime of healthy happy smiles!”



Dr. Yasmin kottit - د.ياسمين قطيط

If your kids are scared from the dentist, bring them to see me 🙂

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