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It is normal for babies to soothe their emotions and quench their hunger by sucking on their thumb, but, if they don’t grow out of the habit, it can be detrimental to their dental health.

First of all, why is thumb sucking bad? Holding a thumb inside the mouth for prolonged periods of time may change how a child’s mouth grows. The upper jaw can be pushed away from the lower jaw, creating a gap and crowding the teeth together, creating overlap. Also, saliva from thumb sucking can irritate the thumb’s skin, creating warts and acne on a child’s hand. Thumb sucking should not persist past age 4.

So how can you help your child stop? You can use a product called a thumb-sucking guard. There are two kinds of thumb-sucking guards. First is the more effective and expensive guard: an aversion therapy splint. It is a hard plastic piece that fits around a child’s wrist and creates a wide cylinder around their thumb that is too wide to put in their mouth. The second method is a soft and fuzzy glove that wraps around the wrist and the thumb. When a child puts the piece in their mouth, they will most likely take it out instantly because of the bristly texture of the fuzz.

If you are worried that your child’s thumb-sucking habit is causing problems, our office in La Vista, Nebraska, is ready to give a professional opinion. Just call Weeder Pediatric Dentistry at (402) 932.1177 to schedule an appointment and discover if your child needs professional intervention.