The Australian Dental Association advises that when children continue to suck after the permanent incisor teeth have erupted, risk getting crooked permanent teeth, particularly if the sucking is forceful or frequent. Also, speech defects may develop especially with the “s” and “th” sounds.
Does your little one suck their thumb or use a dummy? Are you worried about the effects these sucking habits on their teeth? Here are some tips to help your little one stop thumb or dummy sucking.
Depending on your child’s age and ability, you might like to try the following strategies:
Give lots of encouragement – for example, with a hug or praise or star stickers to show that they’re doing something good as a reward.
Use distractions – entertain them with a toy or give them a cuddle to distract them from sucking.
Try not to nag – if children feel they are being nagged, they may become angry and continue the habit.
Show their progress – give a special outing or a toy if the child goes for a certain period without sucking. You can gradually stretch out the period from one night to a week, and then to 30 days.
Use reminders – give children who suck their thumb or finger a glove to wear as a reminder not to suck.
Commercially available aids – There are a range of devices found on the internet that can cover the thumb and discourage your child from thumb sucking.
Alternatively, you could try a band aid, sock or glove, or bitter nail paints.
Psychology – Using a story book! Such as ‘The little bear that sucked his thumb” that models stopping the habit.
Children can easily drift back to their old habit and it may take several attempts before the habit is completely broken. Don't be disheartened. Be patient and know that the first few days without sucking are usually the worst.
We will work alongside you. In rare cases, if your child cannot stop finger sucking by the end of the first year at school, referral to a specialist may be helpful.
If you have further
concerns about you children’s oral health or teeth, please call us and speak
with one of our friendly staff and we’ll be more than happy to help.