Thumb Sucking – Natick, MA

Stop Thumb Sucking in its Tracks

The doctors at Papageorgiou Dental Associates have had personal family experiences with their own children sucking their thumb. For a couple of them, a very friendly oral appliance did the trick. Because it has worked for them personally, the doctors at Papageorgiou Dental Associates know that it is a service they can provide to help families and children break the habit of thumb sucking in Natick, MA. 

Why Choose Papageorgiou Dental Associates
for Thumb Sucking Treatment?

  • Saturday Appointments Available
  • Team That Treats Patients Like Family
  • Friendly Dentist with Gentle Touch

Tips for Preventing and Stopping Thumb Sucking

Baby not sucking thumb

Lots of kids suck their thumb. For babies, it's a natural reflex that helps them feel happy and secure. Sucking on toys, clothes, blankets, and fingers helps them learn about their world. Some children suck their thumbs as a calming mechanism.

As a family dentist & pediatric specialist respectively, Dr. Papageorgiou and Dr. Paola Buckley hear many questions from parents about thumb sucking and what do about. Most kids will gradually lose interest as they begin to develop alternative methods of coping, usually between the ages of 2-4. Language also gives kids the ability to express themselves and ask questions, and they tend to move away from soothing and learning through sucking.

Some kids find it difficult to kick the habit and parents begin to wonder why they don't stop, and how old is too old for kids to still be sucking their thumb? Our Natick family dental office sees little patients with thumb sucking habits. Dr. Papageorgiou and Dr. Buckley can give you tips for preventing and stopping the thumb sucking habit.

Why Do Kids Suck Their Thumbs?

Child sucking their thumb

It’s completely normal for babies to suck their thumb as a part of a comfort routine. Some babies discover their thumb in the first few months of life, while others can be seen thumb sucking in sonograms. Every child is different, but most will thumb suck to:

  • Fall asleep and feel secure
  • Comfort and calm themselves
  • Feel better when they are sick or bored
  • Adjust to changes, such as a new school or a move

Thumb sucking in infancy is not only considered common, but how long should it go on?

The Consequences of Long-Term Thumb Sucking

Croked teeth caused by thumb sucking

It’s one thing to take away a pacifier. Kids may fight and scream, but once it’s gone, they cope and move on. How do you take away a thumb?

Many parents mistakenly believe that as long as their child stops by the time permanent teeth arrive, that there won’t be any problems. However, thumb sucking has an impact on your child’s dental health as young as age 2. Because children’s jaws are soft and flexible, prolonged thumb sucking can hinder development of permanent teeth, as well as cause:

  • Flared upper teeth (buck teeth)
  • Open bite and/or cross bite
  • Chewing difficulty
  • Tongue thrust could result in a lisp
  • Changes in the jawbone shape
  • Changes in facial appearance

Breaking the Thumb Sucking Habit

Child covering mouth after damage caused by thumb sucking

Intensity of thumb sucking plays a large role in the damage inflicted by the habit. Kids who simply rest their thumbs in their mouths are less likely to suffer from dental problems than children who have a more aggressive habit. Dr. Papageorgiou and Dr. Buckley recommend that you start weaning your child from thumb sucking as soon as possible, and most kids are ready between 2 and 3.

Instead of punishing or nagging, focus on what you can do to help your child break the habit.

  • Praise your child when you notice they aren't sucking their thumb
  • Offer alternatives for comfort, such as toys or books
  • Try to limit triggers by heading off anxious moments, boredom, and even hunger
  • Use gentle reminders such as Band-Aids on the thumb or socks over hands at night
  • Involve older kids in the decision on what method they'll use to stop

Talk to Your Family Dentist about Thumb Sucking

Dentist examining child's smile for thumb sucking damage

At Papageorgiou Dental Associates, we can talk to your little one about thumb sucking. Sometimes a reminder from their doctor about what could happen to their teeth is all that's needed. For kids who need a little extra help, Dr. Papageorgiou and Dr. Buckley may recommend a mouth appliance to stop thumb sucking.