Thumb sucking is a common habit in infants. The natural instinct to suck their thumb, sometimes developed in the womb, disappears over time, starting at 6 months of age. Some children stop this habit as early as around 5-6 years old. This action has a calming effect on the baby, either to satisfy hunger whenever the baby is waiting for a bottle, or to soothe the baby when it is sleepy or fussy. The gesture also supplements the maternal affection and security that the baby feels during breastfeeding.
The most common complication of thumb sucking is the vestibulation of the upper teeth, as the child, by fixing the thumb over the tongue, pulls the upper teeth out and pushes the lower teeth in.
They generally occur due to:
Dental problems such as: abnormal positioning of the teeth, deformity of the palatal arch, conditions that require the involvement of an orthodontist who can treat and keep under observation these conditions from the early stages.
Speech problems: poor pronunciation, with stuttering or incorrect positioning of the tongue, in the pronunciation of words.
Emotional problems: once this habit becomes an involuntary tic, the child may become aware of it in different social contexts (at school, on the playground), as a result of the zealous reactions of other children, creating complexes and frustrations.
Bullying the child and criticizing these defects in the presence of other people will, in time, cause anxiety. An anxious child is a very vulnerable child!
If this habit continues beyond the age of 5, a dental examination is necessary to identify irregularities in the teeth, jaw or gums. As this habit can be followed by severe emotional and behavioral disorders, a psychological consultation is also indicated.
How can I help my child to stop the habit of sucking their thumb?
Keep an eye on these habits!
Gradually remove objects associated with sucking!
Distract him from this habit by involving him in different activities!
Give them active roles in the family, household or social environments!
Reward, reward and praise your child when he/she understands and consciously gives up this tic!
Consult a specialist who will advise you to place oral devices in the palatal arch to stop your child’s tendency to suck his thumb!
As a parent, you must always be aware of the drastic effects of this tic on your child’s oral health.
Put on gloves! The harshness of the material and the feeling of a “foreign body” will make him give up this habit of sucking his thumb in time.
Do not remove your child’s finger from his mouth when he is awake! This can possibly be done in your sleep. The gesture of removal is perceived as aggression, not help.
Do not punish the child and do not use insulting remarks! Only patience and understanding will make them stop this habit.
Do not allow people from around you to taunt him about this!
If your help does not prove effective, you should refer to a specialist for therapy.