how to stop sucking thumb

12 EASY Ways- How to Stop Thumb Sucking

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How to Stop Thumb Sucking

How to stop thumb-sucking

Lots of children love thumb sucking as it can be a big source of comfort for them. But you can’t allow them to do it forever. But when should they stop?

At some point in time, you start feeling that “enough is enough.” In this article, you will find out what can thumb sucking do to your teeth and some helpful tools and tips to stop thumb sucking.

Babies usually suck their thumbs, fingers, and pacifiers. Sucking helps babies to feel secure and feel comfortable. Young children suck their thumbs to soothe themselves, provide comfort and enjoy a good sleep. 

How can thumb sucking affect your teeth?

Once the permanent teeth start to develop, sucking the thumb or fingers can result in serious problems. These dental problems affect teeth development and can cause improper alignment of the teeth and jaw.

Pacifiers are an easy habit to break when compared to thumb sucking. They cause the same dental problems that are associated with the intensity and frequency of thumb sucking.

Some children rest their thumbs in mouth, and some suck their thumbs vigorously, so in the second case, the chances of bad teeth are more. Some babies are aggressive thumb suckers, so they damage their primary teeth as well. 

Long term effects of thumb sucking on the teeth

Thumb sucking problems

As it is mentioned earlier, vigorous thumb sucking can cause severe damage to mouth and teeth. This damage can be because of the repetitive pressure that children apply on teeth, jaw, and roof of the mouth by sucking their thumb.

According this study, the anterior open bite (AOB) and posterior cross bite are the most frequent malocclusions associated with prolonged sucking habits.

The long term effects of thumb sucking on teeth can be:

  • Overbite, in which front teeth stand out from the jaw and mouth. 
  • Open bite, in which top and bottom teeth don’t meet even when the mouth is closed. 
  • The shape of the jaw can also be affected. It can lead to improper teeth alignment. 
  • Speech problems
  • The shape of the roof of the mouth is affected badly. 

The good thing is that most of the causes might not even develop if the habit of thumb sucking drops off before the growth of permanent teeth. Many of these issues can be corrected with braces but may also require speech therapy.

Children, who vigorously suck their thumb, and continue this for a long time, may be at increased risk for these side effects. 

Tips to stop children from thumb sucking

12 EASY Ways to Stop Thumb Sucking

If you are thinking of stopping your child from thumb sucking or finger sucking, then whatever method you choose to stop them must have a high chance of success.

One thing should be in your mind; you can’t do it alone without the involvement of your child. Stopping your child from thumb sucking also depends on the age. For older children, just talking to them might be enough.

How to stop thumb sucking tips

Here is a list of tips to help stop your child from sucking their thumb. Keep reading below to find stop thumb sucking tools to help you even further.

How to stop finger sucking
  • Use Positive Reinforcement

It means if you want your children to quit thumb sucking get them involved in the process. Praise them for not sucking their thumb. 

  • Give Them Gentle Reminders

Children often forget things, so the best thing you can do is gently remind them. You may have to remind them many times, but it will work only if your child is also interested in quitting thumb sucking. 

  • Notice the thumb sucking triggers of your children

There can be lots of factors behind thumb sucking, such as when they are bored, tired, and hungry, they suck their thumb. They may suck their thumb during stressful situations to soothe their anxiety. Try to find out the root cause of stress and try to address it. If they are thumb sucking regularly, try to involve them in other activities that involve hands such as drawing or anything like that. 

  • Ask the dentist for the help

If you have tried everything and the result is zero, then try to take the help of a dentist. He may ask a few questions and will let them know the damage that can be caused by thumb sucking. So it may go in your favor. 

  • Don’t convert it into a confrontation

If your child is sucking their thumb, don’t tell him or her that you can’t do it anymore. Look for those times when he is not sucking and praise him. I would recommend making sure to tell them the dangers of thumb sucking. This may motivate them to stop knowing it could mess up their teeth.

  • Politely talk to them

Frequently talk to your children about the thumb sucking habit and let them know that you can help him when he wants to quit thumb sucking.  So whenever your child decides to quit, he/she will come to you and say listen, dad, I want to give up this habit. In this way, both of you will be happy. 

  • Practice Self Awareness

It is the best thing to do. When you saw your child thumb sucking, ask him, do you know you are sucking your thumb? If the answer is no, then find out another way and ask him to try that to soothe him. Other options for soothing can be a soft blanket or stuffed animal. 

  • Come up with creative ways

Find out the creative ways and let your child know that you are growing old, and there is no need to suck your thumb anymore. Give them an example of the people they love and ask them did you ever saw them sucking their thumb? If the answer is no, then ask him to quit this habit. 

How to stop thumb sucking tools

Here are some super easy ways to stop thumb-sucking.

  • Use thumb shields

If you want to remind your child, not to suck thumb, then there are lots of plastic and fabric thumb guards available. The good thing about these thumb shields is your child can wear it all the time or only when they are mostly like to suck thumb such as nighttime. I personally recommend the T Guard. My patients have had a lot of success with these. They come by size:

  1. TGuard Treatment Kit to Stop Thumbsucking (Small (Ages 0-4),
  2. TGurard Treatment Kit (Medium (Ages 5-6)
  3. TGuard Treatment Kit (Large Ages 7+)
  • Finger Sucking Shield

If your child sucks their fingers, try these finger sucking guards:

  1. TGuard AeroFinger, Treatment Kit to Stop Finger Sucking (Small (Ages 0-4))
  2. TGuard AeroFinger, Treatment Kit to Stop Finger Sucking (Medium (Ages 5-6))
  3. TGuard AeroFinger, Treatment Kit to Stop Finger Sucking (Large (Ages 7+))

If your child sucks thumb in sleep, then you can cover their thumb with sock or glove during the night. One more thing to remember is if your child only sucks thumb during sleep, then that is something your child can’t control. 

  • Thumb sucking glove method (batting glove)
Stop thumb sucking guide

This batting glove method was mentioned to me by a fellow dental hygienist. Her sons orthodontist suggested this thumb sucking glove method to her and she says it is the best advice she’s gotten. Use a batting glove to stop thumb sucking.

HOW TO: Just make a small hole into the velcro area and use a zip tie to keep them on. Otherwise the child will just take them off. This method works because they can’t take them off, it is awkward for them to put the glove in their mouth. They also still have full use of their hands. Bonus: It is affordable and can be used for baseball season!

Buy batting glove HERE. Come in different sizes.

Buy Zip ties HERE

Mavala is my secret weapon that I tell all my pediatric patients parents about. It is a clear nail polish treatment that stops finger sucking, nail biting and thumb sucking. This nail polish stops thumb sucking FAST. It has a very bitter taste that deters anyone from wanting to stick their fingers in their mouth. I have heard that even after it is washed off, the nasty bitter taste still stays for a while. It is super affordable and I have heard nothing but amazing feedback.

  • Dental Habit Appliance

If all else fails, consult with your dentist. There are habit appliances that can help break the thumb sucking habit.

Final Thoughts on how to stop thumb sucking

Thumb sucking can affect your teeth and development badly. Thumb sucking and finger sucking can be acceptable for early ages as comfort but should be addressed as they get older. If your child is sucking their fingers at the age of 4 or 5 years, then they may cause damage to their permanent teeth. Hope you found some of these easy ways to stop thumb sucking helpful. Let me know in the comments if you have found something that works too!

Kelly Hancock, RDH

Kelly is a registered dental hygienist and oral health care provider. She is passionate about oral hygiene and encourages people to achieve optimal oral health. She has been working in the dental profession for 16 years and worked in many different roles in the dental industry. Kelly is currently a pediatric dental hygienist specializing in children’s dentistry. She is committed to helping others with their oral health care issues and helping others achieve a smile they love.

This article and all advice on this website, Toothbrush Life, is intended to help people gain knowledge about general oral health topics. No articles or advice on this website are intended to replace professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or qualified healthcare provider to help you with any questions you have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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