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Preventing Tooth Damage: How To Discourage Thumb Sucking

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For some children, it is a very common practice for them to suck their thumb in order to comfort themselves. This is a very normal behavior, but it can be damaging to the child's teeth. As time goes on, his or her jaw and teeth will not align properly and require some gentle dental care to repair it. The following are some ways you can help discourage thumb sucking in order to preserve your child's smile:

Do Not Make A Big Deal

Although your child's oral health is very important, it is crucial that you do not come down hard on the child while dealing with thumb sucking. You need to realize that he or she sucks their thumb as a comforting measure. If you react harshly or yell at them about it each time you witness them sucking a thumb, that can upset them and cause them to suck even more. The best thing to do is subtly acknowledging it and calmly discuss the issue.

Redirect The Child

If you want your child to stop doing an activity, one way to do so is redirect them in order to provide a distraction. Once you see your child sucking his or her thumb, introduce a distraction. Offer a toy, ask if they would like to play a game, or provide them with a healthy snack. Any activity that your child enjoys doing will help them forget about their thumb for a while.

Praise The Child

Another way to discourage thumb sucking is by focusing on when they are not partaking in the activity. The natural inclination is to say something when you see the child sucking the thumb. Instead, watch for a time when your child is not sucking the thumb during an activity that would normally cause them to do so. When they are sleepy, watching television, or riding in the car are primary times when children suck their thumbs. If you begin to notice a trend in which your child does not have a thumb in his or her mouth, subtly mention it and offer praise. This praise will help the child understand that what they are doing is correct. Over time, you will notice that they will begin to use their thumb for comfort less and less.

Thumb sucking is a normal activity for kids, but it can cause problems for your child's teeth. If have tried these tips and your child still wants to thumb their thumb, consult with your pediatric dentist to see if they have any advice to help.