How to Help Your Child Stop Sucking Their Thumb

Like pacifiers, thumb sucking helps babies learn how to self-soothe and aids in their early development. If allowed to continue for too long, however, it can wreak havoc on jaw growth and the overall alignment of their teeth, often resulting in the need for care from an orthodontist in San Antonio, Texas. Unfortunately, it’s a tough habit to break since their thumb is always available for comfort. So, you may need to use one of the following methods to help your child stop sucking their thumb.

Bitter Polish

Bitter polish works wonders in reminding kids to stop sucking their thumb. You just apply the polish to their thumbnails once per day to keep the flavor fresh. With just a taste of the bitter flavors, most kids quickly pull their thumbs out of their mouths.

Plan to introduce other coping skills to the mix to help your kids replace the habit with a positive self‑soothing behavior. Also, remember to change up the polish from time to time since kids can get used to the flavor fast.

Thumb Guards

Some kids are simply not deterred by bitter flavors, allowing them to keep sucking their thumb anyway. If that’s the case with your child, think about having them wear a thumb guard for the initial phase of habit breaking.

The plastic guard prevents them from getting their thumb into their mouth, so they can remember to choose another way to self‑soothe. Due to its unique shape, they can still write, eat, and otherwise use their hand with the guard in place.

Habit Correction Appliance

If nothing else works, you can look to your dentist in San Antonio, Texas, for help stopping the thumb sucking. They can place a temporary dental appliance along the roof of your child’s mouth that breaks the habit instantly. This is especially helpful for kids who do the hard work to stop sucking their thumb in the daytime but go back to it while sleeping at night.

After three to six months, your dentist can usually remove the appliance without risk of the habit returning. Some kids do need to wear the appliance for a year to fully ditch the habit and replace it with a different positive coping skill.

Ready to get help for your child’s thumb sucking habit? Give our team at Tran Dental P.C. a call at (210) 674-3700. We’re here to help protect your child’s beautiful smile by keeping their teeth and gums healthy through every stage of life.