Kids Dentist Guide for Children’s Thumb Sucking

A kids dentist can offer personalized care to your growing child. Ideally, a child’s dentist should care for young patients throughout their childhood years. They should form a relationship with each child and monitor all aspects of their oral health.

Pediatric dentists spend much of their time charting the developmental milestones of young patients. They provide preventative care that helps their patients’ teeth and jaws stay healthy. One aspect of this care is guidance for parents dealing with their children’s thumb sucking.

What a kids dentist does for their patients

A kids dentist works with caregivers and children to ensure a healthy smile in the short and long term. They provide holistic care that involves monitoring the growth and development of the patient’s mouth. This mainly involves tracking the eruption of milk teeth and keeping tabs on the growth of the jaws.

For this reason, a dentist will always advise caregivers to schedule a child’s first dental visit when the teeth start to erupt. This is what to expect from these routine visits:
  • The pediatric dentist will examine the child’s gums, teeth, and jaws
  • They will advise the parents/caregivers on their child’s diet and oral hygiene 
  • The dentist will also guide parents on how to help their children to quit habits like thumb sucking
Children’s dentists use their knowledge of child behavior to recommend tools and techniques to gradually wean children from undesirable oral habits. Here are a few techniques that caregivers can use to manage thumb sucking.

1. Talk to the toddler

The child has a central role in the process of stopping thumb sucking. So, talk with them about it, discussing the consequences without scaring them.

2. Make a game out of the effort to stop thumb sucking

A clever tactic in changing a child’s behavior is to get the kid to invest in the effort of change. Create small, short-term goals that a young child can achieve and design rewards that they will enjoy when they reach those goals.

Typically, the goals are short slices of time during which the child keeps their fingers out of their mouth. Parents can mix this main goal with other goals that may be more fun. This way, the child associates the less-pleasant task with an easier, more enjoyable one. The rewards should be things that the child enjoys, which serve as motivation and a source of fun.

3. Use the child’s favorite characters as a point of reference

Hopefully, the child’s favorite character from their favorite show does not suck their thumb. Present the character as a goal that the child can aspire to. Then, talk the child into imitating the character’s lack of thumb sucking.

4. Use a comfortable device on the child’s thumb

Pediatricians can provide a wearable device that fits nicely over the child’s finger. The device should be comfortable and roomy but hard for the child to remove. It should also be large enough to be a bad fit in the mouth. Use the device for short durations at first, then slowly increase the amount of time that the child spends wearing the appliance.
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Our kids dentist offers preventative and corrective oral care for children of all ages. Reach our offices using the contacts on this page and get answers to all your questions.

Request an appointment or call Camelback Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics at 602-595-3531 for an appointment in our Phoenix office.

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