How To Stop Thumb Sucking

How To Stop Thumb Sucking
Posted on 09/14/2018
The sucking response is a natural instinct that provides comfort for infants and babies, but if the habit continues past age 3 or 4, it can start to cause problems with the teeth. Over time, prolonged thumb sucking can cause an orthodontic problem called an open bite, where the upper and lower front teeth fail to meet when the mouth is closed. As your Northbrook pediatric dentist and orthodontist, we at Yummy Dental & Orthodontics for Kids wanted to provide some tips for breaking the habit of prolonged thumb sucking. 

How to Break the Habit of Thumb Sucking

Is your child still sucking on a thumb or finger past age 4? Try these tips to break the habit and protect their orthodontic development:

  • Talk It Out: Nothing beats open, honest communication, and the first step should always be to talk with your child about the problems of thumb sucking and hear their feelings on the subject. 
  • Positive Reinforcement: When it comes to breaking thumb sucking, positive reinforcement is the way to go. Thumb sucking is a coping mechanism to deal with anxiety, so negative reinforcement can make the problem worse. 
  • Identify the Triggers:Often, kids suck their thumbs to feel better during stressful situations. It can help to identify what's causing the stress and see if solving the underlying problem helps break the habit. 
  • Use a Sticker Chart: Kids love patterns and positive reinforcement, so using a gold star system to mark every day your child goes without thumb sucking is a great way to get them motivated and break the habit for good. 
  • Finger Covers or Gloves: For some kids, wearing a cloth glove or finger cover can help remind them not to suck their thumb and help break the habit. 
  • Bad-Tasting Nail Polish: Another option is to use nail polish that tastes bad. There are many brands made specifically to prevent thumb sucking. 
  • Orthodontic Treatment: If you're looking for a more immediate solution, we can use an orthodontic thumb & finger appliance to prevent thumb sucking. These appliances physically prevent thumb sucking without causing pain or discomfort, and most children cease thumb sucking the day they get the appliance without undergoing any stress. 

Contact Your Logan Square Pediatric Dentist & Orthodontist!

Thumb sucking is harmless in babies, but it's important to watch the habit and take action if it continues past age 3 or 4. We hope these methods help you break the habit of thumb sucking, and if you need more help, your Logan Square pediatric dentist is here to help. Reach out to us at our contact page if you have more questions or if you'd like to schedule an appointment at our office. We look forward to hearing from you, and we wish you luck in breaking the thumb sucking habit!