Without a parent’s control over when their child is sucking his or her thumb, it can be difficult to ween the child off that common self-soother. Parents have less control over the weening process of thumb-sucking versus a pacifier. Pacifiers are more monitored, and your child could be sucking his thumb when you go to sleep, or whenever you are not looking. This proposes a challenge for parents seeking to ween their children off the self-soothing habit.
A child sucking his or her thumb also proposes a list of possible complications later down the road with the child’s dental health. Some effects are sooner rather than later, like the loss of baby teeth from the pressure. Some children even need braces because of having the habit of sucking their thumb as they get older. It is not uncommon for children to continue sucking their thumbs well into the age of starting school even. Because of this dilemma, Dr. Gilda Alonzo, a pediatric dentist in Jupiter, FL has created a wonderful and very popular club that encourages kids to put down the thumb sucking habit for good. This club is called the Thumbs Down Club.
Widely successful, the Thumbs Down Club is exclusive to Pediatric Dentistry of Jupiter in Jupiter, Florida. What Dr. Gilda Alonzo and her team have done with the patients, is motivate children to stop sucking their thumbs by giving them incentives. The Thumbs Down Club requirements are, the child must stop sucking his or her thumb for 2 months straight. If the child can accomplish that, they are given a gift card to Toys-R-Us. That is not all though, the kids are given exclusive membership to the practice’s Thumbs Down Club, which includes a spotlight on the bulletin board. Not to mention, your child has then won themselves the bragging rights among his or her friends.
The children of Pediatric Dentistry of Jupiter take great pleasure in joining this club and earning their way in. This club is just one more thing that helps the kids build a relationship with their dentist as well as a good relationship with good oral health habits. Letting your children develop a positive perspective toward dental visits and build the desire to maintain healthy oral habits can be tools that carry with them through adulthood. A good foundation can pave the way for a healthier lifestyle and solid future for one’s health.
Research shows that by developing healthy habits during childhood, people as more likely to continue making healthier choices well into adulthood. The prolonged habit of a child sucking his or her thumb can result in the following, but not limited to:
- A Malformed Thumb- The child’s thumb takes on a more curved shape, or sometimes becomes shorter as the growth of the thumb can be hindered.
- A Narrow Arch of the Jaw- This goes hand in hand with the loss of teeth. As children have the prolonged habit of sucking his or her thumb, they pull the front teeth forward resulting in tooth loss and a narrower arch of the jaw, thus requiring braces down the road. This pressure, can also result in further collapse of the upper arch from the cheeks.
- Overbite- An overbite is a common result for prolonged thumb-sucking, and is linked to the above-mentioned factors of a narrowing arch, and collapsed upper arch.
- Malformed Teeth- this can occur as the child ages. The dental and bony jaw will change.
- Poor Speech- Some children develop a lisp and other speech impediments.
- Bullying- Public Ridicule for a child sucking his or her thumb as they go into grade school is common.
Interested in our Thumbs Down Club? Ask Dr. Alonzo about it on your next visit! She can also give you tips on how to help the follow-through of breaking the habit at home.