There are many things a child uses for comfort, including their favorite blanket, teddy bear, or other stuffed animal; they may even snuggle with a mother’s shirt or other familiar object for nap or bedtime.

To help with anxiety, a child may also find their thumb produces a relaxing and calming effect when they suck on it. It’s a fact that between 75% and 95% of infants suck their thumb. In most cases, there is no need to worry if your child is a thumb-sucker, but it’s a habit he or she does need to eventually break. Planet Dental can assist with thumb sucking treatment in Laredo, Texas. We care about those first teeth and beyond, so there may be some signs to watch for if your child’s thumb sucking is turning into a dental issue.

First, observe how your child is sucking his or her thumb. If it’s in a loose way, and the sucking is passive, then it’s less likely to cause problems. If a child is aggressive and constantly has his or her thumb in the mouth, pressing against the mouth or gums, then it becomes worrisome.

Dr. Labbe, Dr. Staat, and associates will check your child’s teeth to see if the habit is starting to cause problems. In the meantime, here are some ways to help your child quit the thumb sucking habit:

  1. As with any habit, helping your child break the habit of sucking their thumb can be tricky, but if you approach it with praise, instead of punishment, it will better for your child. This also includes replacing the habit with something else to help them feel calm and comforted.
  2. Create a progress chart that monitors when they are sucking and when they’re not, so the more times they don’t can be noted and a reward of some kind can be offered
  3. Observe when your child is sucking his or her thumb; if it’s due to social anxiety or situation-provoked, try and create a diversion, which will help the child focus less on the habit
  4. Discuss with your child what could happen to their teeth if he or she keeps up with the habit

If you choose to assist in getting rid of the habit, always make sure your child feels comforted and safe, not scolded, and offer another solution to their anxiety and/or fear.

If you would like more information or to make an appointment with our dentists, please contact our office at 956-242-4245.