There are a ton of parents out there that are really concerned about their kids because of their thumb sucking habit.
For a baby it is a very natural thing for them to suck their thumb and a lot of the times this habit begins while the child is still in the mothers tummy. So as parents you should not feel any sort of anxiety because thumb sucking is all part of the natural growing up process.
The only time it becomes a cause for concern is when the habit continues past the age of 5. If it does it can lead to the child’s teeth not developing in the proper manner.
> Is Thumb Sucking Past the Age of 5 Common?
Well, it all depends on which area of the country you happen to reside in. Statistics seem to vary quite a bit depending on where you are.
However common reports do show that over 50% of kids under the age of 5 have the habit of sucking their thumb but this radically reduces to as little as 2% for those that go above this age.
However there is one controversial study out there that shows that these days over 11% of kids continue to suck their thumb on some level after the ages of 5.
Most research out there also shows that the habit of sucking your thumb seems to be something that is learned over time and is not effected by things such as how long you breastfeed the child.
> When is the Right Time For The Habit of Thumb Sucking to Stop?
You ideally want the child to stop sucking their thumb before their permanent teeth come out. This will more than likely mean that their teeth should come out perfectly normally.
But if the child is to continue the habit when his permanent teeth come out, then it is more than likely going to result in them experiencing bite issues late on.
The reason for these bite issues is because of the pressure that is placed on the teeth from the thumb.
The child may experience something that is known as a crossbite because the tongue becomes lowered in the mouth and the pressure of the cheeks is increased because of all that sucking, resulting in a v shaped bite!
But research shows that a childs teeth will only move when the pressure is over a consistently long period of time. So if the child is only sucking their thumb here and there for a very short time then it is unlikely to cause much damage. But even light sucking over several hours can result in serious damage.
To see how bad of a habit thumb sucking has become for your child, you should take a look at their thumbs. Those who are persistently sucking their thumbs will have rough thumbs, perhaps even have some blisters!
While the major concern about thumb sucking is the change in teeth and bite alignment there are other issues that may come about.
These include the child’s tongue not functioning as normal which may result in their speech changing.
> So How Can We Stop Our Children From Sucking Their Thumbs?
You really want to get your kids to stop sucking their thumbs by the age of 6 at the latest. The good news is that the vast majority of kids out there are going to stop all by themselves, especially as they start doing more and more things outside of the house such as beginning school.
A very small percentage of kids are going to continue to suck their thumbs into their teenage years, before they eventually stop.
> Slowly Discouraging Your Child To Stop Sucking Their Thumb
Small kids just don’t care whether or not their teeth will look good in the future so you will literally be wasting your time if you try to convince them in this manner.
You are better off trying to make the child look at the thumb as an external thing and that putting it in the mouth will mean that the thumb is winning!
You could also try using weird tasting nail application that you can buy everywhere, or put a plaster on the thumb or put a glove on the hand while they are sleeping.
If you notice that you child continues to suck their thumb while they are asleep then you should as the parent gently take their thumb out of their mouth.
However if you have a child whose thumb sucking habit is extremely strong then you may not want to do this because you will end up disturbing their sleep.
If your child is 6 + then he or she will be more than capable of understanding the long term negative consequences of sucking their thumb and therefore your guidance may very well help them out.
Help them to understand that by sucking their thumb continuously they are going to totally ruin their teeth and bite… and if they stop they will end up with teeth that look wonderful.
Sometimes getting your child to go cold turkey on the habit will work amazing but other times slowly weening them off the habit will help a lot more… it all depends on each individual case and you have to try both to see what works best.
You could begin by telling them to totally stop sucking their thumb while they are doing a particular activity such as watching TV.
Naturally no child is going to be able to ween themselves off the habit immediately but keep at it and eventually they will break that nasty habit!
Truth be told, the only way that they are going to be able to stop in the long run is by wanting to stop themselves. Being forced to stop will never get the desired result that you want.
> Use Certain Oral Appliances
Your orthodontist should be able to fit a thumb stopping appliance in your kids mouth, but this is definitely something that you are going to want to do as an absolute last resort if you child is just not stopping at all.
This appliance will literally prevent them from sucking their thumb by helping them become conscious every single time they do it.
A lot of people swear by it and there are statistics out there that claim that such oral appliances work about 95% of the time.
Now it is a fact that thumb sucking will result in your child developing a terrible bite but there are many, many ways to help them break the habit for good!
The good news is that once the habit has been broken you can undergo orthodontic treatment which will reverse any damage that may have been done and give your child a really great smile.