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Little Smiles Pediatric Dentistry
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8708 SE 17th Ave, Portland, OR 97202
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How to Deter Your Child's Thumb Sucking

Posted on 6/10/2016 by Cynthia Pelley
A young boy sucking his thumb and damaging his oral health.When your child sucks his thumb as a baby, you might think that it is cute, but as he gets older and the habit continues you may begin to worry.

Thumb sucking can alter your child's teeth and bite, and if it continues for too long, your child may need extensive orthodontic work to correct the problem.

If you have been struggling to get your child to stop sucking his thumb, try some of these tips on for size.

Start Trying to Kick the Habit Early

It is recommended that you start working on getting your child to break the habit when he is 18 months old, although kids usually grow out of this stage by the time they reach 2-3 years of age.

Try to encourage your child to hold onto a special stuffed animal or blanket rather than sucking his thumb, as these items can serve as a new way to self soothe.

Provide Distractions
Rather than asking your child to stop sucking and to remove his thumb from his mouth, use distractions. Present an activity that he will need two hands to perform, such as playing with a unique new toy. Just have several options available so that the technique doesn't get boring.

Watch for Triggers

Do you notice that your child sucks his thumb at certain times of the day or in stressful situations? Look for triggers that might be leading to the thumb sucking, such as being tired or stressed. Your child may also have a developmental delay or anxious habit that you can discuss with your doctor.

Praise His Non-Thumb Sucking Moments

When your child doesn't suck his thumb, make sure that you are giving him words of encouragement, praise, hugs, and kisses. A reward chart might also be a good idea, and every time that he doesn't suck his thumb, he can get stickers or another special prize.

Please contact us if you have any questions about thumb sucking.

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Little Smiles Pediatric Dentistry - Cynthia Pelley | | (503) 235-0313
8708 SE 17th Avenue, Portland, OR 97202