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    Wednesday, October 03, 2012

    How To Stop Thumb Sucking Habits

    Thumb sucking in children is a habit that every parent wishes to end. But a child who engages in thumb sucking finds it soothing. Many parents improvise thumb sucking with pacifiers, not really a start in an attempt to stop the child’s thumb sucking habit. Merely an alternative.

    Effects of thumb sucking and the use of pacifiers on teeth: 
    Thumb sucking and pacifiers have negative effects on the teeth.The British Dental Health foundation recommends that it is better to completely avoid the use of pacifiers and instead, concentrate on discouraging the habit.

    The number of ways thumb sucking and pacifiers affect the teeth of your child include;

    Teeth growth and development : 
    Both thumb sucking and pacifiers can be problematic to the growth and development of the teeth and consequently, treatment with a brace will be needed when the child gets older. Doctors and Dentists warn that this habit is the reason behind the development of buck teeth and mis shapen jaw lines.

    Biting : 
    The American Dental Association(ADA) have suggested that if thumb sucking persists after the age of two, strength of the child’s bite may weaken.Also, after the appearance of a child’s permanent teeth, the habit interferes with teeth alignment,proper mouth growth as well as trigger changes to the roof of the mouth

    Speech impediment : 
    The use of pacifiers for long periods could be problematic for the child’s speech. The threat of speech disorder in young children lurks with the habit of thumb sucking/use of pacifiers as suggested in a research by pediatrics in an open access journal BMC.

    The effects depend on three factors which are;The intensity with which the child does the sucking,how often a child sucks and how long the child sucks.

    The child that sucks intensely is more prone to teeth problems.Pacifiers have dire effects on a growing face by causing the underlying skeletal structures(cartilage and bones) to grow in an assymetrical manner, also causing intrusion and protusion of the upper front teeth which consequently causes interferance with proper development and speech and possible tongue thrust.

    Subsequent negative teeth effect on normal growth : 
    Pacifiers, according to Dr Snodgrass do not only affect the baby’s teeth but also the normal growth and development of the child, causing the upper arch to be too narrow and the lower joint to develop wrongly. And if a baby’s mouth is malformed, it will cause adult teeth to also develop incorrectly.

    How to stop thumb sucking and pacifiers : Given the detrimental effects of thumb sucking and pacifiers on teeth,there are tips available to help overcome sucking as seen below;

    For a start,desist from an early attempt : 
    Studies have shown that older thumb suckers had something in common which was attempts by their parents to stop thier habit at an early age.The ADA has suggested that children who thumb-suck or use pacifiers, be allowed to reach the age of 5(five) when their front permanent teeth appears, before serious attempts should not be taken to eliminate the habit.

    The good thing is, most children outgrow this habit before the recommended age. But if this doesn’t happen, there is then serious need to intervene.

    Dont nag but apply wisdom : 
    Nagging stresses you. For the child,she might get concious of it when you’re around and unconcious of it when you’re not. Or she might keep doing it on purpose in your absense. So apply wisdom by talking to her. Remind her that she’s overgrown for such a bad habit and needs to stop. Show her kids of her age that don’t suck and ask if she doesn’t want to be like them.If it doest work, it’s a start in the right direction. There are other measures.

    Use activity for distraction : 
    Whenever you see her sucking her thumb,engage her in an activity that requires usage of her hands like picking up a toy or something.And as sucking is paramount at bed time, make sure she’s holding her favorite toy in bed or holding the bed time story book as you read it to her.

    Cover the finger that is sucked : 
    Women in Africa have quickly succeeded by tying the finger that is normally sucked, with a cloth which causes a resistance when the thumb attempts to go in the mouth.

    Weaken the habit with bad taste : 
    Rub bitter syrup on the finger or over a cloth tied around the finger so that her tongue will encounter a bitter taste each time it goes in her mouth.

    In all, be determined and you will succeed in helping your child eliminate the thumb sucking habit.


    1. Thank you for sharing. I like both applying wisdom, and the activity as distraction.

    2. good advises, I was wondering, when I should start to wean my 2 yaer old from his parcifier. although, from my own thumb sucking experience as a child I´d like to add that neither rubbing my thumb with something bad tasting ot covering it with fabric worked for me; I just ripped off the fabric for example or went to the toilet at night to wash my hands. I´m happy that it was not mentioned in this article, but some parents and kindergarten teachers still use some sort of teeth-correction parcifers to keep their kids from thumb sucking (don´t know their actual name, they look like a combination of parcifer on the outside and silicon braces on the inside.)Please, please do not torture your children with these horrible parcifiers, they only kept me and everyone else I know of from sleeping, but not from sucking our thumbs. Cheers, Mone


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