Thumb sucking is one of the most recognizable behaviors found in children. Sucking is a natural reflex and infants and young children may use thumbs, fingers, pacifiers, and other objects on which to suck. It may make them feel secure and happy, or provide a sense of security at difficult periods. Since thumb sucking is relaxing, it may even encourage sleep. Studies found by our dentist in 60172 have proposed that as many as 90% of children have engaged in this type of activity in their lives. We have even seen that thumb sucking can begin in the mother’s womb during pregnancy. It’s natural, safe, and can be quite helpful to parents, as their baby learns to soothe themselves from time to time.
Whether this oral fixation is satisfied with a thumb or the commonly used pacifier, most children discontinue this practice before long. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry states that most children stop thumb sucking on their own between the ages of 2 and 4.
Once your baby’s first set of teeth are in and thumb sucking persists, there is a chance that this habit could push the teeth slightly forward. Fortunately, this will in no way affect the placement of the adult teeth or add to the cost of your child’s future dental bills. Thumb sucking, even in toddlers, is considered normal. It does not mean there is anything wrong with your child and that they should feel embarrassed or ashamed. Even the most persistent thumb sucker ordinarily stops on their own by the time toddlerhood has ended.
Thumb sucking infrequently continues past the age of four. This is usually found to be the result of too much attention or negative reinforcement given to the habit in previous years. Beyond this age, thumb sucking can begin to impact the alignment of the adult teeth, so it is best your child shed the habit sooner rather than later.
How do you help them with this? Don’t reprimand them because of it, don’t remove the thumb from their mouth and don’t mention it. This is where their growing awareness and social cues come in handy. As your child begins to notice that the kids around them aren’t sucking their thumbs anymore, they won’t want to either. They will also start to discover other skills or items to give them comfort and security. Peer pressure becomes a much greater deterrent than a parent’s disapproval.
What Can I Do to Support my Child Through Thumb Sucking?
- Insecurity often causes anxiety in children and this may lead to thumb sucking. Instead of reprimanding them, try to focus on what is making them feel anxious.
- Parents who provide comfort and positive reinforcement to their children will see a less likelihood of thumb sucking.
- Take note of the times your child tends to suck on their thumb and create diversions during these occasions.
- Ask your child’s dentist to speak with them about the impact thumb sucking will have on their mouths.
- Place a band-aid or a sock on your child’s thumb as a reminder to avoid putting their thumb or fingers in their mouth.
Thumb sucking can be a troublesome habit for parents, mostly when it feels like your child is the only one still engaging in the behavior. Permitting your child to find other ways of comforting themselves is more helpful to them in the end. If you have any other questions on how to improve your child’s oral health, please give our Roselle, IL dental office a call. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, visit our website or give us a call today.
Good oral hygiene habits are essential to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. What you might not know is that research has found the health of your mouth actually mirrors the overall condition of your body. According to the Academy of General Dentistry, there is a direct relationship between gum disease and many serious health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. The good news is, research also shows that good oral health may actually help prevent certain diseases from occurring.
Understanding the mouth/body connection
Poor oral habits can cause bacteria to build up on your teeth, making your gums more prone to disease and infection. When that happens, your immune system goes to work attacking the infection, leading to inflammation and gum disease, also known as periodontitis. Left untreated, periodontitis and chronic inflammation can wreak havoc on the rest of your body, leading to a host of health problems. Thankfully, this “worst-case-scenario” is easily preventable. Here’s what you can do to elevate your oral hygiene habits and keep unwanted health concerns at bay:
- Brush twice a day for at least two minutes using a soft-bristled brush. Be sure to choose a toothbrush that is the right size for your mouth so you can reach back teeth easily. If you have any questions about which toothbrush we recommend for you, you can ask our office during your appointment.
- Remember to replace your toothbrush every three or four months.
- Choose an American Dental Association-approved fluoride toothpaste to keep teeth free from decay.
- Floss daily to remove tooth decay-causing bacteria that tend to linger between teeth. Regular flossing also helps remove plaque under the gum line and minimize your risk of contracting gum disease.
- Eat a healthy diet that limits sugary beverages and snacks.
- Avoid cigarettes and other tobacco products, which are known to contribute to gum disease and oral cancer.
In addition to maintaining good daily oral health habits, seeing your dentist regularly is one of the best ways to keep your mouth – and your body – healthy. These exams allow our dentist in Roselle to monitor any changes to your teeth and gums and make recommendations that will help you avoid future health problems. Call our Roselle, IL dental office today to schedule an exam.