Stop Thumb Sucking

We are here to help you and your child!

Thumb and finger sucking maybe normal for very young children, and will generally stop around 2 and 4 years of age. If your child is still thumb or finger sucking when their adult teeth begin to come through, there is a higher chance of problems developing with their teeth and jaw structure.

Thumb and finger sucking isn’t always just a cute little habit. It can cause issues with jaw and facial development, teeth positioning and function of the muscles. It can impact a child’s posture, the growth of their airways and breathing. It can increase the need for future orthodontic treatment, and exacerbates problems with chewing and feeding behaviours and speech development

Here at Kiddies Dental Care, we are here to help you and your family. Our friendly and super supportive staff have been trained in the latest techniques to help your child overcome the habit. We will create a comprehensive personalised plan for your child, complete with an assessment of their habits and any impact it may be having on their development.

We understand that this can be a confusing area for parents to navigate and we are here to help you as much as possible. We will discuss the following topics in your appointment:

We then educate parents about:

• What may be contributing to prolonged sucking habits in some children, and what may be relevant to your child?

• What may be the effects of prolonged sucking habits, and what may be relevant to your child?

• What may be the priorities to address first from parents point of view and from dentist’s point of view?

• What further referrals may be required?

• What are some management strategies that Kiddies Dental Care can assist with your child? What management method(s) is most suitable for your child.

We are a certified Thumbsucking Clinic Provider.

We also have other skill set and tools to help to achieve habit breaking with your child.

There is no one size fits all approach with thumb sucking management, let us chat to you about the strategy that may work best for your child, call us on 03 9372 8960.

We will provide you with an extensive screening questionnaire, then our clinician will view the questionnaire outcome, and organise the most appropriate appointment for you with the most suited clinician(s) at Kiddies Dental Care.

Myth 1 About Thumb and Finger Sucking: It does not cause any harm

That depends on each individual child. It depends specifically on duration, intensity and frequency. It depends on HOW they suck, what digits they suck
(finger suckers tend to have a higher palate). Some kids put pressure on their teeth, some kids put pressure on their palate, and others will put pressure on their lower jaw. Some children will need surgery to correct skeletal deformities related to digit sucking. Generally, thumb and digit sucking will usually have some form of impact on dental growth and development.

The biggest concern with digit sucking is that it results in improper tongue and lip rest postures and functions in childhood which influences how the child’s face and jaws develop.

Myth 2 About Thumb and Finger Sucking: They will grow out of it

Um…..sorry, not necessarily. Simply Google “adult thumbsucking” and you will get 42 000 results. There are websites dedicated to this habit. Famous suckers
include Rhianna and Amy Winehouse. If you ask around, guaranteed, you will find someone with a grown up son, a cousin, a hairdresser or a husband (NOT kidding) who STILL sucks their digit in adulthood. Adults simply become better at hiding their habits, and it is often used as an emotional crutch or simply for relaxation.

Myth 3 About Thumb and Finger Sucking: The sooner they can stop the better

Its true, the earlier a child stops sucking the better. But before 12 months, mouthing is normal and we need to provide optimum opportunities for kids to suck and chew on appropriate toys. By doing this, babies should turn into kids that have had optimal oral experiences and sucking habits lapse.

At the age of 4 and a half to 5 years old – the so called “Magic Age” children are bright and receptive and are often ready to stop their sucking…. This is a great age to begin a formalized program.

Any mechanical or aversive approach to stopping a child younger than 5 can result in withdrawals (don’t laugh!! Remember the body’s natural chemical opiates!) including bad behaviour and transfer to another habit (think nail biting, cheek chewing, clothes chewing).

As mentioned earlier, children under 5 years are little people, many are still babies really. Age 5 is the time when children can understand other people’s points of view. They are able to take a bit more responsibility and they usually really want to please. This is the best time for a behaviour modification program to be initiated and the best chance for success.

Myth 4 About Thumb and Finger Sucking: It's an act of defiance

It is true that children who suck are often highly emotional, extremely intelligent little people. But surprisingly, often the act of defiance and continued sucking is because the children themselves don’t know how to stop.

Myth 5 About Thumb and Finger Sucking: It's the parents fault

Sucking is a natural instinct for babies. As infants, the first contact a baby usually has with sucking is at their mother’s breast to drink breast milk. Milk contains a protein that is converted into serotonin in the brain and creates a sleepy, tired, relaxed feeling. And children who become attached to sucking as they get older still  get a physiological payoff every time they do it.
Prolonged and vigorous sucking results in decreased neurotransmissions in the brain and the chemicals serotonin and dopamine are released – the body’s very own natural addictive opiate.

There are very few ways to mimic this amazing sensation. Many parents say that when they get upset or try to discipline their child over their sucking, ironically, the sucking worsens.

By the time parents get to us, they usually have tried every trick in the book to stop the sucking. Don’t blame the parents. Trust us, they are doing the very best they can.