Charlotte Pediatric Dentist Offers Tips to Conquer Thumb-Sucking Habit

For a baby, thumb-sucking is one of the most natural reflexes for comfort and relaxation. Researchers have studied thumb-sucking in utero and during the earliest moments of life. Unfortunately, as a baby begins to grow, this sweet habit can pose more of a health threat than help. Having the hands and fingers in the mouth becomes a way to spread germs and the habit may hinder a child’s oral development.

But, as is true with most habits, breaking the routine is challenging for most families. Seeking help from a Charlotte pediatric dentist is a smart way to help your child overcome this behavior in a manner that is healthy and delicate, without causing undue trauma.

Thumb-sucking that continues after the baby teeth have begun to emerge can alter the shape of the palate and jaw, changing the direction that the teeth will grow into place. As the permanent teeth grow in, this malformation can be expected to continue, and the damage becomes much more extensive.

If a toddler or elementary student has not voluntarily chosen to break the habit, you will need to step in with some suitable strategies to save that precious little smile. Parents and caregivers can partner with the pediatric dentist to resolve the problem:

• Start by offering positive praise when the child is not sucking his thumb.

• Determine if the thumb-sucking is triggered by anxiety or insecurity. Work with your child to overcome or redirect these feelings.

• Empower an older child to develop her own strategy for kicking the habit.

• Recruit your pediatric dentist in Charlotte to encourage and educate your child about the risks of thumb-sucking.

The challenge to quit a habit like thumb-sucking may require a team effort and lots of patience. Inform friends and family members of the game plan so that your child feels surrounded by a positive support group. Take the first step by calling to schedule an office visit today.