Many children go through phases where they have an item or habit that makes them feel comfortable and safe. For some children this may be carrying around a blanket or favourite toy, while for others it may be a habit such as sucking their thumb or fingers. Although this particular habit may seem harmless, the potential future repercussions are something that you as a parent need to be aware of.
As written by the Australian Society of Orthodontists, “There are usually no long-term ill-effects from thumb sucking in early childhood and most children naturally give-up the habit somewhere between 2-4 years of age. However, if thumb or finger sucking continues past this age it can alter the normal growth of the jaws and cause significant misalignment of the front adult teeth as they erupt into the mouth.” These issues will then need to be corrected through Orthodontics which can be costly if you don’t do your research.
What can you do as a parent?
The ASO recommends the following tips to help your child overcome their thumb sucking habit:
- Reward and offer encouragement such as a hug or praise to reinforce their decision to stop the habit.
- Limit nagging as a child can become defensive.
- Mark progress on a calendar for each day or week a child does not suck their thumb or finger. Provide a special outing or a toy as a reward.
- Encourage bonding, such as with a special toy.
- Give reminders e.g. place unpleasant tasting nail paint (available from chemists) on the fingers or thumb, put a bandaid over the thumb at bedtime.
- Offer distractions e.g. toys on a car trip.
So Mums and Dads, if you are at all concerned that your child’s habits may be causing dental problems, please call 5532 3433 to book in an initial complimentary consultation so you can have a chat with Dr Gullotta and discuss solutions. With over 30 years experience in the field, you don’t need to look any further!