Digit (thumb or finger) sucking is normal and harmless habit for an infant to have. However, if it continues past a certain point, it can become detrimental to healthy oral development. A habit appliance from our Greensboro practice is custom designed for a comfortable fit.
When should thumb sucking stop?
Every child develops at a different rate, both emotionally and physically. Thumb sucking usually starts early, possibly even before birth. In most cases, as the child grows up he or she will naturally lose the habit. The American Dental Association (ADA) reports that kids typically outgrow the habit by age four.
Thumb sucking is not considered detrimental for infants or pre-school age children. It becomes problematic when it persists after permanent teeth begin to develop. If not stopped, it can adversely affect the development of not only teeth, but also the jaw and overall facial structure.
If you are trying to encourage your little one to give up the habit, we recommend using positive reinforcement when the child refrains, rather than scolding or punishing for thumb/finger sucking. Often, children do this when they are feeling anxious, and an angry parent may exacerbate the problem.
How an appliance can help
A habit appliance is not bulky or intrusive. It is usually made of lightweight wire with loops that wrap around teeth to hold it in place. The design prevents the child’s thumb or finger from touching the gums. Without direct tissue contact, children seem to lose interest in thumb sucking. This is an efficient, gentle, and effective solution to a problem that plagues many parents.
If you are concerned about your child’s thumb sucking habit, or anything else that may be affecting his or her oral development, please visit Dr. Sona for a consultation. Call Triad Pediatric Dentistry at (336) 804-8668 to arrange an appointment.