Although thumb and finger sucking can be soothing for our little ones, prolonged sucking can lead to dental and speech problems, as well as permanent changes to the development of their jaw bones. For these reasons we encourage parents to start proactively discouraging the habit by age 3 and kicking it altogether by age 4.

Dental Problems

When finger or thumb sucking isn’t tackled early on, the upper front teeth may begin to flare out and the palate starts to narrow. This causes what is termed an anterior open bite and a bilateral cross bite, meaning the upper jaw is excessively narrow and the front teeth do not touch when the child bites together, practically leaving space for a thumb! Correction of these dental problems requires years of invasive orthodontic treatment, which is why we are passionate about early detection and elimination of the habit.

Speech Problems

Teeth also play an essential role in speech development during these formative learning years. When the teeth are displaced from digit sucking habits, lisps and other speech development issues often develop. These problems require extensive speech therapy to correct but are avoidable with a well-positioned dentition.

Top tips to kick the habit

  • The T-guard is a fantastic way to deter your child from digit sucking during the day and night. Alternatively a thumb snuggler or even a long sports sock over the arms while sleeping may deter them
  • Daytime sucking needs to be constantly monitored. Reward good behaviour with a prize board! Make goals for the week and find rewards that excite your kids! Maybe an extra hour up at night or working their way up to a new toy?
  • Discourage thumb sucking by removing privileges such as the iPad or TV time
  • Explain to your child what thumb sucking does to their teeth, including talking funny and looking funny (pictures can help)

Good luck parents! You can do it!

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