Thumb Sucking

Serving Fort Worth, Arlington, Keller and surrounding areas of Texas.


Thumb Sucking

Are you concerned about your child’s thumb sucking or pacifier use? It is a fairly common habit and children use it to soothe themselves. However, knowing that it can cause skin irritation around the finger or mouth, and it is not a good habit, we are ready as parents to break this habit as early as possible. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends stopping this habit by the age of four. Around the age of four, thumb sucking begins to affect permanent teeth.

Using a pacifier or thumb sucking is soothing to many babies; and they often do so when they feel anxious, parents are not around, or they need to fall asleep. Children begin this behavior in the womb. However, prolonged thumb sucking can change tooth alignment, leading to spacing or affecting the roof of the mouth. It is easier to break a pacifier habit than to stop active thumb sucking.

Some ways to help encourage a child to stop the habit include positive reinforcement when they are not sucking a thumb. Wrapping a band aid or sock over the hand during the times that they are most likely to put the hand in their mouth. Finding out the trigger for their anxiety and keeping them engaged during this time.

Pressure to stop the habit can increase anxiety, thus worsening thumb sucking. In older children, if they can’t seem to part with the habit, a habit breaker appliance can be made for the roof of their mouth. This keeps kids from fitting their thumb snugly in the roof of their mouth. The applicance is known as a fixed crib appliance. Or a palatal rake. This sit in the palate and looks much like a rake to prevent a thumb fitting in the palate.

The don’ts for parents with thumb sucking children including pressure or nagging about the behavior. Avoid putting honey or sugar on a pacifier for a child to suck on. This can cause cavities. And keeping the child’s hand or pacifier clean is also important for their health.

If you or your child need a dental consultation, schedule an appointment with us. We would love to be your family dentist. We are located within a mile of the Fort Worth Children’s Museum. Fun day at the Dentist and Museum for the kids!