Digit Sucking (Thumb Sucking) − Louisville KY

Digit sucking is not uncommon in infants. In fact, children are often visualized on ultra-sound examination sucking their thumbs even before they are born.

For more information about Thumb Sucking or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Ray, call our office in Louisville, KY at Great Grins For Kids Phone Number 502-231-1418.

What are the effects of digit sucking?

Children usually give up digit sucking by one or 2 years of age, but often children continue thumb or finger sucking as a habit. Not only can digit sucking obviously spread germs, but over a long period of time can result in growth or positional abnormalities of the teeth and boney areas of the gums and jaws causing skeletal open bite or other undesirable facial growth. Variances in severity are dependent on a child’s nasal and oral airway, genetic, skeletal facial type, musculature and how often, how strong and how the thumb or fingers are positioned in the mouth.

What can I do to stop my child from thumb sucking?

  • Dr. Ray likes to explain to children that, “When you are a baby and 1 year old, sucking a thumb or finger is good…. But, if you are 2 (or 3 or 4, etc)… It’s against the rules because it can make your teeth sick… and you don’t want to have your teeth, ‘sick’.”
  • A child may not know, or care about crooked, ugly teeth or open bites… But they sure know what “sick” is, and typically want no part of it… Children are very proud of their age… (unlike adults) Children can revert to “Baby-hood” or “Big-hood” easily, depending on their wants and needs. However, no 2, 3 or 4 year old wants to be like a “1 year old”.
  • Often, anyone besides “Mom” or “Dad” presenting the above information to a young child can achieve success in having a child stop a digit habit but only, when the child “wants to”.
  • Using reminder “Band-aids” on the digit and a good, daily, or more often reward system similar to that used for toilet training is, according to Dr. Ray’s experience, far more effective, and much less costly than the cost of making intra-oral “Habit Appliances”.
  • Just like toilet training, digit habit-breaking may not be successful on the first attempt. Give it a rest for a few days, a few weeks and try it again.
  • Dr. Ray cautions, in contrast to those who might say, “Just wait, don’t worry, they will probably stop by the time they are in the 1st grade”. Try to break any habit, whether good or bad after you have been repeating the same habit for 5-6 years… The longer the habit, the harder to break the habit.
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Keith L. Ray, DMD Louisville, KY pediatric dentist, practices a full scope of pediatric dentistry and orthodontics, providing a caring and comfortable environment for your child’s visit to the dentist.

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