Your Brooklyn kids dentist Dr. Marina Krepkh is trained to notice the habits and changes in your kids’ teeth early on. It’s important to stop the behavior either by:
- Bringing it to your attention to help correct as needed
- Applying a device that discourages the negative behavior
Habit Therapy (Thumb Sucking and Teeth Health)
Sucking is a perfectly natural reflex and can even begin in the womb. Young children can find it relaxing and comforting which is why so many sucking their thumb or finger when falling asleep.
Most children will naturally stop sucking their thumb between the age of two and four years old. This habit is perfectly harmless during the first two or three years of life, while a child still has their baby teeth and before the adult teeth begin to erupt.
Development of the Teeth and Jaws
Kids oral habits become more of a problem when they continue into early childhood, and they can affect the development of the teeth and jaws.
Thumb or finger sucking can impact the arrangement of teeth and the development of the jaws.
Common problems include the development of an open bite, movement of the upper and lower front teeth and sometimes speech defects. The development of the upper jaw can also be affected by the pressure asserted by finger or thumb sucking.
If the habit is discontinued at a relatively early age then some of the changes to the teeth and jaws may be self-correcting. The majority of children will stop by the time they go to school, so habit therapy treatment is generally not started until the child is between the ages of four and six.
Our pediatric dentist in Brooklyn Dr. Marina Krepkh will want to help your child to break these habits before any permanent damage is done to the teeth, gums and jaws.
Different Techniques Used for Habit Therapy
Thumb and Finger Sucking
The simplest form of treatment for thumb or finger sucking is for our pediatric dentist to counsel the child, gently explaining the consequences of continuing the habit in a way that is very easy for your child to understand. This approach tends to work best for older children.
A second type of therapy is to remind the child each time they try to indulge in this habit. The technique can be as simple as placing something on the child’s finger or thumb such as mittens, socks or a bandage. It’s also possible to paint the fingernails with a bitter substance designed to discourage nail-biting.
Remain Supportive and Positive During Habit Therapy
The main thing is to remain supportive and positive during habit therapy, giving your child lots of praise when they manage not to suck their thumb. Don’t scold them when they slip up, as they may turn to thumb sucking for comfort. Parents and caregivers can find it helpful to use a reward chart, with stickers marking each day your child successfully manages not to suck their thumb.
Some children will suck their thumb or finger when anxious, and if this is the case then easing their anxiety could help break the habit. It’s also worthwhile making a note of the times your child is most likely to suck their fingers or thumbs, and to create diversions during this time.
Sometimes a child is not emotionally ready to stop thumbsucking, and it may be necessary to use an intraoral habit appliance.
An intraoral appliance will help remind your child not to place their fingers or thumbs in their mouth. These appliances will mechanically interfere with the satisfaction gained from sucking fingers and thumbs.
Some contain arrangements of wires that remind the child they shouldn’t be sucking their finger or thumb, while others have cylinders that will spin under the pressure exerted by thumb or finger sucking, interfering with the placement of the digit, and enjoyment. Some appliances are also designed to simultaneously expand the upper jaw if required.
Pacifier use tends to be easier to break than thumb or finger sucking, as it’s simple for a parent or caregiver to lose or misplace a pacifier until the child forgets about it.
Some 90% of children will cease to use a pacifier before five years of age, and 100% will stop the age of eight.
The earlier the habit is discontinued the more likely the teeth and jaws are to self-correct.
Our pediatric dentistry center provides fun and playful, child friendly environment.
We pursue perfection; you will be surprised by knowledge, accuracy and professionalism of our staff. Our Kids Dentistry Center at the Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, NY location equipped with in-house laboratory and newest low radiation 3D scanning equipment. Come in see it for yourself.
Do you have any questions about Habit Therapy for kids? Would you like to schedule an appointment with a best rated Brooklyn pediatric dentist Dr. Marina Krepkh of Kids Best Dentist NYC, please contact our office for consultation.
Kids Best Dentist NYC
Dr. Marina Krepkh (Brooklyn Pediatric Dentist)
7708 4th Avenue 1st floor
Brooklyn, NY 11209 (Bay Ridge)