Why It Is Important That Your Child Stops Sucking Their Thumb

Babies have a natural reflex for sucking their thumbs that can even begin before birth. Because it can sometimes help children feel secure and safe, it can often develop into a habit. Most children will stop sucking their thumbs on their own, usually between the age of 2 and 4.

How Can Thumb Sucking Affect Children’s Oral Health?

Thumb sucking doesn’t usually become a problem until a child’s permanent teeth come in. According to the British Orthodontic Society, if the habit stops before the age of seven, the teeth will often correct themselves. However, evidence suggests that one in every eight children between the ages of seven and eleven have an extended habit. If the habit continues once permanent teeth are visible, their position can be permanently affected and self correction is less likely to occur. At this point, thumb sucking might start to affect your child’s palate (roof of their mouth) and how the teeth line up. Problems that can occur include crossbite, an anterior open bite, misshapen palate and difficulty with eating.

What Can I Do to Encourage My Child To Stop Sucking Their Thumb?

Reward your child! Give them praise or offer them small rewards such as a trip to the park or an extra bedtime story. Set them goals such as going a week without sucking their thumb, mark the days off on a calendar using stickers so your child can visualise their achievement.

Identify what is causing them to suck their thumb. Some children will turn to the habit when they are stressed. Recognise the issue and offer them comfort in other ways, such as reassuring words or a hug.

Some children will suck their thumb without thought. Gently remind them to stop but don’t criticise them when doing so.

If you are concerned about your child’s habit and feel that it is negatively affecting their oral health, ask your dentist to speak to them at their next appointment. Some children may appreciate hearing the advice from someone other than their parents, who can offer guidance and explain how it can affect their mouth in a way they can fully understand.

If you require any further guidance, don’t hesitate to contact us at info@newbydental.co.uk

Starting the Little Ones off Right

We all know that those first visits to the dentist can make us a little anxious, so here are a few things you can do to help prepare children for their first dental visits!

1 – Start by preparing at home

Start to introduce your little one to the dentist by talking about their teeth, and telling them about the special chair that takes them on a fun ride! The chair can be a big, scary place for someone so small.
(Top tip, some childrens cartoons have dedicated dental episodes to help with just this! Pop them on for your little one to watch and see their favourite character go to the dentist too)

2 – Ensure good oral hygiene at home

Brushing at home is the best way to help your little one understand the dentist. Helping them brush and checking their teeth at home will help us to be able to check them here too! Don’t worry, you don’t need to know what decay looks like, just as long as your little one will happily open their mouth for you to check, it helps to develop a routine and make looking at their teeth a normal experience, which equals it being less strange as scary here!

3 – We LOVE to meet your cuddly friends!

Bringing a cuddly toy to the dentist can really help children to be confident for their check ups. Plus, we love to meet them, find out their names and if they are really lucky, their best buddy can even have a check up too to show you how it is done!

4 – Use a positive approach

Use positive language when talking about visiting the dentist, such as saying how fun and exciting it will be! We understand some parents suffer with dental anxieties, and we need to try our best to ensure children don’t develop any too.

Trips to the dentist don’t have to be scary, and instead should be portrayed as a fun experience with lots of praise for happy teeth! Our lovely dentists are all fantastic with children and helping to make check ups a positive experience.

We advise parents to bring children before the age of 1, even if they don’t have any teeth! These first appointments help to reassure children and familiarise them with the dentist, setting them up with dental confidence for life.

Plus…. it is always worth it for a sticker!