Thumb Sucking FAQ's
My child continues to suck her thumb. What should i do?
is perfectly normal for a young child to suck her thumb, bite her nails
or carry a security blanket. Most school children have these habits. These
unconscious, nervous habits are usually caused by tension. Do not try to
stop your child through force or ridicule. The child will learn self control
by herself, as she grows older. She will become more conscious of her appearance
and learn socially appropriate behaviour.
How damaging is thumb-sucking for my baby's teeth?
It is a fact that thumb-sucking can
result in your baby's upper front teeth being pushed forward and the lower
teeth back. The extent to which the teeth are displaced will depend on
how long the baby sucks her thumb and how she positions her thumb. This
displacement of teeth is not permanent, i.e. it only affects the baby's
milk teeth. The child's permanent teeth come in around the age of six,
so as long as thumb-sucking is curtailed before this age, there should
be no permanent damage to the child's teeth. However, as mentioned earlier,
this is debatable. Sometimes the child's jaw line and palette can get disturbed,
which could have an effect on the child's permanent teeth as well. She
could also develop a lisp.
Is the reason behind my child's thumb-sucking, psychological?
If your child occasionally sucks
his thumb but generally seems happy and well-adjusted, there is no cause
for concern. However, thumb-sucking can be an indication of maladjustment
or lack of love. Parents should try to identify what is bothering the child
and then set it right if possible. May be your child needs companionship,
or may be you are being too restrictive or not providing enough stimulation
and distraction. There could be any number of reasons.
How can I help my child overcome thumb-sucking?
1. If your child is less than 4 years old:
a) Make your child wear long-sleeved nightwear, which will make it difficult for him to get his hand out from the sleeve and start sucking his thumb at night.
b) Wrap an elastic bandage across
his elbow and waist. Pressure exerted by the bandage removes the digit
from the mouth as the child tires and falls asleep.
4. Bring thumb-sucking to the attention of your child's dentist if your child still hasn't kicked the habit by the time he turns 6.
5. Do not scold, slap your child's hands or do anything to punish him for sucking.
6. Use an agreed upon keyword like
tyrannosaurus or chewing gum to remind your child in public that he is
thumb-sucking, without causing him embarrassment.
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