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Thumb Sucking


Thumb sucking is one of an infant’s natural reflexes.

It makes them feel secure and happy, and it helps them learn about their world. Placing a thumb or another finger in the mouth provides some children with a sense of security during difficult periods at other times when they are tired or asleep. However, prolonged sucking of the thumb use may cause problems with the proper growth of the mouth and the alignment of teeth.

These problems may be either the abnormal prosthesis of the upper jaw and its teeth (prognathism) or a gap between the anterior teeth when the child closes the mouth (open bite).

Of course, we should mention that if the child stops the harmful habit, the problem is usually restored without any intervention. But when the child continues beyond the age of 3.5-4, parents should intervene and discourage this habit. However, you should be careful because excessive pressure to stop can do more harm than good.

TIPS

    • Instead of scolding the child for pacifier use, offer praise for not doing so.
    • Children often suck their thumb when feeling insecure. Focus on correcting the cause of the anxiety and comfort the child. The best period for trying to break off this habit is during the summer holidays.
    • Reward the child for even his or her least attempt.
    • The dentist also can encourage the child to stop sucking his or her thumb and explain what could happen to the teeth if it continues. If these approaches do not work, practical measures are recommended, such as a medication with which to coat the thumb to prevent the thumb sucking or a mouth appliance at the age of 6, when the child changes his/her teeth. Results will occur only when our children understand that our aim is to help them.

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