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Thumb Sucking

Emergency Dentist Neutral bay

A baby’s first instinct is to suck their thumb, it is linked to exploration, their need for food and it is healthy to do so. Sucking of the thumb generally decreases once a baby starts eating solid foods then decreases further or stops completely when they are around one year old. After two years of age, this is when thumb sucking and the use of a dummy can be a concern. Many children suck out of habit or to soothe themselves. The habit is best broken before the adult teeth start erupting as fingers, thumbs and dummies can force the teeth and jaw out of alignment. The child may need treatment to correct this when they are older. The two most common problems thumb sucking causes are malocclusion (teeth pushed forward out of position), and a lisp.

How can I help my child stop sucking their thumb?

Try to limit the amount of time they are sucking their thumb whilst at home.
Recognize and praise when they are not sucking their thumb- do not punish them if you see them sucking.
Talk to your child about why it is important to stop and how you will help them do so when they are ready.
Make them self aware, if you see them sucking say “Do you realise you are sucking your thumb?” Help them soothe themselves with something else, perhaps a blanket or stuffed animal.
Do not use a mitten or glove, this will frustrate them further.
Remember, your child will eventually grow out of thumb sucking.

Ian, the Mosman dentist. Dentist Mosman.




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