Thumb or Finger Sucking For Non-nutrition Purposes:
What can you do and when should you begin? A article published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, states that “the ideal age for discontinuation of nonnutritive sucking habits may be around 24 months of age”. Sucking habits continued beyond the age of 24 months may result in increased risk of developing a (crossbite) narrowed top jaw and protrusive/bucked baby teeth. If a child’s habit persists beyond 48 months of age, “professional assistance in habit discontinuation may be warranted to minimize the risk of developing malocclusion”. Your child must actively participate in controlling their destiny. As a parent, try to avoid scolding your child about their habit. It is better to praise them when they are not sucking.
It is important to stop thumb or finger sucking habits as soon as possible after the age of 24 months.
Prolonged finger or pacifier habits can permanently alter the position of the teeth, jaws, roof of the mouth and tongue. The sucking of the cheeks inward around the finger, squeezes the upper jaw and makes the jaw abnormally narrow. The presence of the finger between the front teeth prevents the upper and lower front teeth from growing towards each other. The tongue often thrusts itself forward into the vertical space between the front teeth making this hole or open bite larger. Prolonged pacifier habits are associated with the development of posterior crossbites while prolonged finger habits are associated with bucked teeth. More children have trouble stopping finger sucking than pacifier sucking.
Intensity of the sucking is also a factor. Children who rest their thumbs passively in their mouths are less likely to have difficulty than those who vigorously suck their thumbs.
Here is an approach. Stop the night time sucking first because these long hours of sucking do the most damage; then work on daytime sucking.
Buy a LONG sleeve tee shirt that has a sleeve so long that it extends beyond the tips of your child’s fingers fully extended. Sew the cuff closed beyond the finger tips and have your child wear this long sleeve tee to bed as a pajama top. This method covers the fingers and is much more effective than mitts or gloves that are easier to take off.
For daytime sucking, place two strips of the 1/2 inch wide adhesive tape around the sucked finger on either side of the finger joint, creating tape donuts on either side of the joint. When your child puts their finger in their mouth, ask “How does it feel?”. Your child should tell you that the bulk of the tape donuts makes their finger feel very different. This tape reminder can be accentuated by painting the tape with foul tasting “Thum” medicine.
For TV time suckers, make a removable finger splint out of adhesive tape and two popsicle sticks. Place the splint on the TV and instruct your child to place the splint on their finger before they turn on the TV. They can remove the splint when they stop watching the TV.
Have your child make a chart. Your child will place a star on the chart if they did not suck their finger during the previous 24 hours. When a goal of 21 stars accumulate in a row, give your child a mutually agreed upon reward.
This program will replace the satisfaction of sucking with the child’s increased sense of accomplishment and self-esteem. Occasionally, a child who has stopped sucking may return to the habit. Just reinstitute the program and realize that this can happen with any long term habit.
There are a lot of ways children can hurt their teeth. Besides cavities, teeth can be chipped during accidents. Our practice has experience treating patients with crowns and fillings for children. Our team would like to help your child or teenager restore their teeth and enjoy smiling again. Please contact our practice today to schedule a crowns and fillings for children appointment.
We can use crowns and fillings for children to repair teeth when necessary. If your child’s smile has been affected by decay, we’ll most likely be able to use these cosmetic services to return full form and functionality to teeth. It will depend on how deep the cavity or tooth fracture is to determine whether the Pediatric Dentistry team will utilize a dental crown or a simple filling.
Ask about crowns and fillings for children today!
Most children enjoy sugary snacks and occasionally we do find cavities. Fillings are the most common method of repairing cavities in our practice. When a cavity affects a tooth, we will need to drill away the damaged area and cleanse the area. We use a filling to then restore the structure of the tooth.
A dental crown covers a tooth and prevents it from breaking down further. It may be necessary to place a crown if a large part of the tooth has been affected by harmful dental decay, and the existing tooth is still years from the time it should fall out. Our Pediatric Dentistry often uses crowns to fix broken teeth.
Besides white fillings and traditional metal crowns, we have white crowns for your child as well. We recommend natural-colored crowns and fillings for children if the altered tooth is a permanent one, especially if the tooth will be visible to peers. We will provide metal-free crowns and fillings for children to prevent your child’s teeth from appearing patchy or mismatched.
We’re happy to use crowns and fillings for children to repair your loved one’s smile. If you would like to see a Pediatric Dentist during your child’s time of need, please call us today to schedule a visit.