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How to Prevent Thumb Sucking Habit of Infants?

Published on Jul 30, 2016 and last reviewed on Dec 23, 2022   -  2 min read

Abstract

This article discusses everything about the thumb sucking habit, which includes causes, prevention, and treatment.

How to Prevent Thumb Sucking Habit of Infants?

Thumb sucking is the placement of the thumb at various depths into the mouth. It is normal for a child to put his thumb into his mouth up to 3 years of age. Thumb sucking can be divided into psychological and habitual.

  1. The psychological habit may have a deep-rooted emotional factor involved.
  2. In the case of habituation, the child may perform acts of thumb sucking due to a habit.

Causative Factors

  • Parent's occupation: Mothers from poor socioeconomic backgrounds are unable to provide infants with sufficient breast milk. So, the child puts his thumb in the mouth.
  • The number of siblings: As the number of siblings increase, the attention meted out by parents to the child gets divided. The child may neglect his feelings of insecurity by putting the thumb in his mouth.
  • Order of birth of the child: Later in the order, the child is born, greater the chance of having a thumb sucking habit.
  • Stress: If a child is stressed, then he tends to put his thumb in the mouth.

How to Prevent Thumb Sucking Habit?

Try to involve your child in various activities. Spend quality time with your child so that he or she does not feel insecure. Also, you can use a physiological nipple in the bottle.

Treatment

1. Reminder therapy

A physical barrier like band, gloves, etc., are used to remind the child to take the thumb out. You should also tell the child that it is not a punishment.

2. Extraoral approach

It employs bitter-flavored preparations that are applied to fingers or thumbs. It is available with the dentist.

3. Ace bandage approach

This program involves the use of an elastic bandage wrapped across the elbow at night. Pressure exerted by the bandage removes the digit from the mouth as child tires and falls asleep.

4. Use of long sleeve nightdress

The long sleeves of the dress interfere with the contact of thumb and mouth.

5. Intraoral appliances

It includes various appliances that have spurs or rakes so that the insertion of the thumb into the mouth makes the child uncomfortable. The appliance has to be worn for at least four months and it can be of fixed or removable types.

For further doubts regarding thumb sucking habit, consult a pedodontist online --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/pedodontist

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Frequently Asked Questions


1.

Does Thumb Sucking Have Side Effects?

Yes, thumb sucking does have side effects such as: 
- Dental malocclusion such as open bite.
- Skin issues.
- Problems with speech and pronunciation.
- Psychological effects such as social issues.

2.

What Is the Reason Behind Thumb Sucking?

Thumb sucking is a reflex behavior that is resorted for safety and assurance. The reason for thumb sucking could vary in adults and children. In adults, thumb sucking can be seen as a response to stress and anxiety. Sometimes, it can also be seen as a response to trauma.

3.

How To Stop the Habit of Thumb Sucking?

Thumb sucking can be stopped in the following ways:
- Psychological approaches such as positive reinforcement.
- Identifying the reason behind the development of the habit.
- Using dental habit-breaking appliances.
- Providing gentle reminders to discontinue the habit.

4.

What Is the Average Time Required to Break a Thumb Sucking Habit?

Thumb sucking habit, in some cases, resolves on its own between the age of six to seven months. In some cases, it may even stop when the child reaches the age of two to three years. If it does not stop on its own, methods to break the habit must be used. In such cases, breaking the thumb-sucking habit may take six weeks to six months.

5.

Is Sucking Thumb Better Than a Pacifier?

Both thumb sucking and pacifier have their own disadvantages. Thumb sucking can cause oral infections, whereas pacifiers can cause ear infections. However, pacifiers are known to decrease the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

6.

What Are the Harmful Effects of Thumb Sucking?

The harmful effects of thumb sucking include:
- Malalignment of teeth.
- Speech difficulties.
- Skin issues.
- Social issues.

7.

What Causes Thumb Sucking?

Sucking and rooting are the inherent reflexes that babies have. It is believed that thumb sucking gives a very soothing feeling to the infant. Thumbsucking can make babies feel very secure. This may eventually become a habit when the infant needs to feel secure.

8.

Can Thumb Sucking Cause a Delay in Speech?

Thumb sucking can cause a delay in speech. It may cause difficulty in pronouncing certain words. Thumb sucking can affect the positioning of teeth, tongue, and lips. It can especially affect the pronunciation of syllables such as “D” and “T.”

9.

Can Thumb Sucking Cause Sickness?

Yes, thumb sucking can cause illness. The thumb is kept in the mouth and can be a potential reservoir for germs and viruses. Thumb sucking most commonly causes ear infections. They can also cause viral infections such as herpes.

10.

What Are the Long-Term Side Effects of Thumb Sucking?

The long-term side effects of thumb sucking can include:
- Dental problems such as open bites and proclined teeth.
- Speech disturbances.
- Skin disorders of the fingers and lips.

11.

Does Thumb Sucking Have Hereditary Components?

Yes, thumb sucking can have hereditary factors. There is a genetic factor to thumb sucking. However, no such gene has been assigned or found. Though a genetic pattern is not seen, a familial pattern is observed in thumb sucking.

Last reviewed at:
23 Dec 2022  -  2 min read

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