Thumb sucking

WHAT IS THUMB SUCKING?

There are long-term effects related to prolonged thumb sucking and pacifier use. Myofunctional therapy can help by addressing these concerns with a Thumb Sucking Elimination Program.  Thumb sucking is considered a normal, common habit among babies and toddlers.  There are several reasons why a child may suck their thumb or finger. These include being tired, scared, sick or stressed. Thumb sucking is often a self soothing habit. Although this habit is comforting and calming, if not corrected it can lead to a variety of issues.

WHY IS IT A CONCERN?

Prolonged thumb sucking and pacifier use can negatively impact the development of speech, and interfere with the tongue's appropriate resting position.  This can create developmental consequences for the face, jaw, teeth.  Digit sucking can have a negative impact on the growth of the jaws and cause improper alignment of the teeth.  In addition, constant pressure by the thumb or fingers can cause a high narrow palate, early loss of baby teeth, abnormal swallowing patterns, and improper tongue position.

HOW CAN IT BE CORRECTED?

Thumbsucking Cessation Programs or Habit Elimination Programs are a form of behavior modification and can be successful in eliminating thumb sucking.  Rather than using an appliance  to rid a person of the thumb or finger sucking habit, positive reinforcement establishes self-esteem and a sense of accomplishment. Once the habit is gone, the child gains many benefits such as a more socially acceptable behavior,  an ability to speak more clearly and better dental health.  In breaking the unwanted habit, the child will also receive a boost in self-confidence. But it is key that the child have the desire to quit before undertaking this challenge. Appliances have a poor success rate in eliminating both sucking habits and tongue thrusting.

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