How To Break Thumb Sucking: Ways To Help Your Kids

February 14, 2022by Brownstone Dental0

If you have children or work around children, you have probably experienced a child who sucks their thumb.

Aside from being unhygienic, it can also be quite frustrating.

Children may suck their thumb because of anxiety or because it is comforting to them.

The temptation to break your child’s thumb is great, but before you do, you need to realize that they are not doing it to embarrass you or drive you crazy.

Here are easy ways to stop thumb-sucking habits and make them feel more comfortable.

Why do some children suck their thumbs?

Why do some children suck their thumbs_

According to the American Dental Association, thumb-sucking is a normal reflex that can begin as early as three months.

Many children continue to suck a thumb until about the age of four or five. The main reason for thumb sucking is to relieve tension.

This makes sense when you realize that babies and young kids often suck on a pacifier, bottle, or thumb when they are tired, bored, upset, or stressed.

How long does thumb-sucking usually last?

As mentioned earlier, thumb sucking or finger sucking as it is sometimes called is a habit that most children stop by when they are 4 or 5 years old.

The majority of children stop this habit between the ages of 2 and 3. Some kids may take a little longer to grow out of it, but it is unusual for sucking to continue past the age of five.

Bad side effects of thumb sucking on the mouth

Bad side effects of thumb sucking on the mouth

Sucking is a natural thing for human beings. Babies instinctively suck, and there is no reason to make them stop.

The only bad side effect of sucking is that it can damage the mouth and teeth.

Without intervention, thumb sucking can cause the following:

  • crossbite, which is a misalignment of the teeth.
  • Teeth can become slightly crowded, which can halt the permanent teeth from coming in properly.
  • The upper jaw can become narrow, and the lower jaw can become wider. This can cause problems when it comes time to get braces.

How to break thumb-sucking habit

How to break thumb-sucking habit


Here are some tips to help your kids stop thumb sucking:

  1. Replace the thumb with a small toy or another object that is appropriate for that child’s age. This might be a security item or even just a piece of knotted fabric to hold.
  2. Cover your little one’s thumb by taping it down to his hand, covering it with an adhesive bandage, or putting socks on it.
  3. Try to distract your little one by giving him an attention-getting toy or book.
  4. If your children are younger, take them to the doctor. The doctor may recommend putting bitter liquid on their thumbs (you can buy it at pharmacies).
  5. Or, they may suggest putting a small object in your child’s mouth to keep the thumb away.
  6. Remind your child that thumb sucking is only allowed at certain times, such as before naps or bedtime.
  7. Praise your child and reward them stickers when he doesn’t suck his thumb for a week.
  8. Set up an “applause meter” to measure how long it goes between times when your child sucks his thumb.
  9. When your little one doesn’t suck his thumb for a certain amount of time, give him praise or some other reward.

What should you do if you notice issues with the teeth?

What should you do if you notice issues with the teeth_

See a dentist as soon as possible if you notice any of the following problems with your teeth:

  • Pain when chewing
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold
  • A change in the way your teeth fit together when you close your mouth
  • New or unusual growths on your gums, tongue, or lips
  • A change in the color of your teeth

How can an orthodontist help stop thumb sucking?

How can an orthodontist help stop thumb sucking_


An orthodontist can help by making a retainer that will stop your child from sucking his thumb.

He will put a device in your child’s mouth that fits over the thumb.

It is attached to bands on the teeth, so when your child sucks his thumb, he will feel the metal part in his mouth.

Breaking thumbsucking habit

Breaking thumbsucking habit

There are a few things you want to keep in mind when trying to stop your child from sucking their thumb.

The first is that there is no rush. Your child will stop thumb sucking eventually, but it does not need to be done immediately.

Instead, work with your child to gradually reduce the amount of time they spend sucking their thumb.

When you notice that your child is about to suck their thumb, redirect them to another activity.

This way, your child will associate thumb sucking with a negative feeling and will not want to do it again.

dentist giving advice

We hope that you have found the various ways to stop sucking your thumb in this blog post helpful.

If you are in Houston, Texas, and have any further questions regarding how to help your children stop thumb sucking,

please don’t hesitate to contact Brownstone Dental, and we will be happy to help.

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