Quick Tips to Help Your Child Beat Thumb Sucking

June 14, 2018

ihXO6EY - Quick Tips to Help Your Child Beat Thumb Sucking

Thumb sucking and finger sucking are habits common in many children. In fact, nearly one third of all children suck on their thumbs or fingers in their first year of life. Though it’s cute and comforting, thumb sucking can have many different consequences down the line.

Thumb Sucking can Cause Oral Health Problems

Unfortunately, thumb sucking can lead to many oral development issues that negatively affect how the teeth fit together. Thumb sucking can cause an open bite, where the top and bottom teeth do not meet when the mouth is closed. It can lead to a narrowing and distortion of the palate and cause misaligned bite patterns (cross bite).

What Causes Thumb Sucking?

Boredom, anxiety, anger, hunger, or even sadness can all cause children to suck on their fingers for comfort. Children mostly suck on their thumbs or fingers for comfort and self-soothing.

Quick Tips to Defeat Thumb Sucking

Ideally, we recommend working with your child to stop their finger habit around age four.  Children this age and older can usually understand how and why you would like them to work on stopping their thumb sucking.  Due to rapid dental development that occurs at this time, stopping the habit can allow the mouth to sometimes “self-correct” misalignments that may have occurred. But, it’s even more important to stop any sucking habits as the permanent teeth begin to erupt.

Identify their Thumb Sucking Triggers

The first step to prevent thumb sucking is by figuring out what triggers your child to suck their fingers. If you can identify that, then you can help them adapt their behavior with positive reinforcement, or prepare them for the situation ahead of time.  Small rewards and motivational charts are helpful, too – check out our Just For Kids section of our website for free downloads!


A great way to work on thumb sucking is by intervening when your child is in the act. When you see them sucking their thumb or finger, gently remind them to stop.

Take a Family Approach

You can’t be everywhere at once, so employ the help of your family and child’s care takers to help with their habit. Make sure everyone is using the same language and intervention technique so that your child has a consistent understanding of why they need to break the habit.

Divert their Attention

Diversion is another great method to overcome thumb sucking. If you catch your child sucking their finger, try diverting their attention with their favorite stuffed animal or toy, something that involves their attention and hands, to get them to quit right then and there.

Cover their Thumbs

You can also make their thumbs less appetizing by wrapping them with Band-Aids, or applying products that make the taste unpleasant. These surprisingly simple “reminders” work well for children that are motivated to stop, and incentivizes children to get their uncovered thumbs back as soon as possible.

Visit Our Office

Thumb sucking is an oral habit that can be fixed with proper knowledge and healthy habits. Some children have a more difficult time stopping and you may  need some help from us! Schedule an appointment with our office so we can talk to you and your child about keeping their mouth healthy.

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