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Non-Nutritive Habits – Midland, TX

Non-Nutritive Habits – Midland, TX

A small child practicing non-nutritive habits in Midland At Midland Kid’s Dentist, we see children of all ages. As pediatric dentists, we know that non-nutritive habits like thumb-sucking and pacifier use can be comforting to little ones who may be nervous. Unfortunately, if this practice is allowed to continue as a child grows older, it can result in serious oral health problems, including an overbite or open bite, or it can take a toll on their facial development. Our team wants to help alleviate these concerns by providing helpful tips so that you can help your child find healthier ways to cope with uncertainty and boredom. If you are struggling to help your child give up their thumb-sucking habit, call our office to schedule an appointment today.

What to Know About Thumb-Sucking

Little girl sucking her thumb while in bed

Thumb-sucking is a common habit that many children practice, especially growing toddlers and preschool-aged kids. Although it may seem harmless, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) suggests that the longer a child continues to suck their thumb, the greater their chances of developing serious bite problems as well as changes in their facial development and the roof of their mouth.

While it is true that many babies no longer practice thumb-sucking after reaching the age of one, others continue to rely on it to soothe themselves until they reach preschool or kindergarten.

The Impact of Thumb-Sucking on Your Child’s Oral Health

Up-close view of a child’s overbite

Children who continue to suck their thumb are likely unaware of the dangers this non-nutritive habit poses, but parents should recognize the possible problems that can occur as well as the costly treatment that may be required to fix these issues.

Some of the most common effects thumb-sucking can have on a child’s smile include:

  • Developing an overbite, open bite, or crossbite
  • Having teeth that are misaligned, which can lead to worn-down tooth enamel and jaw pain
  • Asymmetrical facial features

Your child’s oral health is of primary concern, so once their permanent teeth erupt, don’t waste any time seeking the help of a trusted dental professional. Ensuring that your child stops sucking their thumb will lower the risk of these above-mentioned problems so that they can enjoy a healthier, functional, and beautiful smile.

Tips to Break the Habit

A father and daughter hugging and smiling

If you are having a hard time getting your child to stop sucking their thumb, our dental team at Midland Kid’s Dentist is here to help. We know it can be a struggle, but if you commit to using these helpful tips, you will find that your child is on their way to saying goodbye to their thumb-sucking habit:

  • Provide your child with a reward if they do not suck their thumb for a designated amount of time. It’s best to avoid sugary treats. Instead, you can offer them stickers or playtime at the park.
  • Speak positively toward them when you see they are not sucking their thumb. It will not be something that they stop doing automatically; instead, it will take time. Make sure to remain encouraging and use gentle reminders to help them avoid this bad habit.
  • If you find that your child tends to suck their thumb when they’re bored or scared, try to find ways to eliminate these problems. Keep your child occupied with activities that require them to use their hands. Also, remind them when they’re scared that they are safe, encouraging them to snuggle with their favorite teddy bear instead of resorting to their thumb for comfort.