Pediatric Oral Habits

Does your child suck his thumb or bite his nails ?: We will tell you when to worry and what to do.

it bad for my child to suck his thumb?

  • Finger sucking is a natural and reflex habit in many babies during the first months of life (even inside the tummy!). However, if it persists, it becomes a very difficult habit to eliminate and in the long term can cause serious consequences in your child’s bite.
  • If your child is over 3 years old and still sucks his thumb, you should consult your pediatric dentist for advice.

Thumb Sucking

If the habit persists, what should I do?

  • Firstly, forget about yelling, punishing, or painting your thumb with a bad-tasting liquid.
  • Secondly, instead of concentrating on what not to do, it is important to first learn what you can do.
  • Finally, perhaps you can suggest your child to suck on a cloth or count their teeth by touching them with their tongue.

Should my child use a pacifier?

  • Babies usually have an intense sucking instinct, which on the one hand satisfies the need to feed, on the other hand it replaces the connection with their mother. That is why it offers them great pleasure. To satisfy this need, the child uses his fingers or other objects.
  • Therefore, the pacifier is an important and very common means of satisfying the infant’s need for sucking. Actually, it can work preventively against thumb sucking.
  • Frequently, efforts to avoid the use of pacifiers lead to thumb sucking, which is a simple replacement for the pacifier habit and has serious consequences on maxillary development.
  • Overall, the use of a pacifier is preferred to the use of fingers because the problem can be stopped more easily. The problem is generally stopped at a younger age and less damage is caused.

When should my child stop using a pacifier?

  • The use of a pacifier or the habit of sucking fingers must stop after the appearance of the first teeth.
  • Indeed, the reason is that if there is any deformity in the jaws it will self-correct over time. However, if these habits extend beyond this age as seen with thumb sucking, the deformities may be permanent and difficult to correct.
  • Consequently, in these cases, the best person to consult is your pediatric dentist, who will advise you on the best ways to treat and break these habits.

And what about nail biting?

  • Children usually start to bite their nails without realizing it, often nibbling for the first time when they get bored.

How bad is this habit?

  • People who bite seriously can nibble on their nails or cuticles to the point of creating painfully raw skin or sores that bleed or become infected.

How can I help my child to overcome this habit?

  • Think about when and why your child bite their nails. Whether they are nervous or just bored.
  • Understanding the triggers can help you find a solution and overcome the habit.
  • Moreover, for a 3 to 4 year old kid, distraction is the best intervention.
  • Finally, if you see your child with their fingers in their mouth, it is important to give them some healthy food to chew on or invite them to color or maybe provide them a toy for entertainment.