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Thumb Sucking: A Most Common Habit

Little Baby Sucking Their ThumbWhat’s the most common thing nearly half of American toddlers do when they’re tired, relaxing, sleeping or being scolded? They suck their thumbs!

Thumb-sucking is the earliest and most common habit among children. It’s nothing for parents to worry about—unless the habit persists. Only after age four does thumb-sucking threaten to damage children’s teeth

Some thumb-suckers simply rest the thumb in the mouth, sucking only at certain times. Others work at the habit, and can displace teeth severely. If, when you remove the thumb from your child’s mouth you hear a “popping,” it signals a great deal of pressure on the teeth that may cause an overbite or underbite. If the child is over four, you may want to discuss the habit with an orthodontist.

To help break a child of thumb-sucking, parents should:

  • Avoid punishing the child
  • Provide play materials to occupy the child’s hands
  • Keep supervision to a minimum
  • Keep the home environment happy

One of the worst approaches is parental pressure—it can have a negative effect. On the other hand, peer pressure often works well, encouraging the child to imitate “grown-up” behavior.

Sometimes an orthodontic appliance can prevent or replace a thumb-sucking habit. Once a child becomes accustomed to the appliance, he or see may no longer interested in thumb-sucking.

The first step is to determine when and why a child is thumb-sucking. We’ve had lots of experience. Give us a call—we may be able to help.

About Alan Limbird, DDS

Dr. Alan Limbird graduated from the University of California, San Francisco in 1983, in the top 10% of his class. He immediately entered into a residency at Loma Linda University in General Dental Practice. After completing his residency in 1984, he joined a dental practice in Ukiah which he owned and operated for 30 years. At Limbird Dentistry, Dr. Limbird offered his patients the highest quality treatment using state of the art dental technology to create beautiful smiles. Dr. Limbird sold his Ukiah practice in November 2014 and continues to work part-time with the new owners. In April 2017, Dr. Limbird joined Dr. James Hooper’s thriving dental practice in Fort Bragg. Dr. Limbird is excited to be offering dental services to his new patients on the coast. With the new Solea Dental Laser, he can offer an even higher level of care and technology than ever before. Dr. Limbird strives to stay on the cutting edge of dental technology. While working part-time for two years, he filled his free time by attending many dental education courses to fine tune his skills and learn new ones. Recent courses include: Oral Surgery, extractions, bone grafting, implant placement, implant restoration and extensive training with Dental Lasers. These skills will be put to good use in his Fort Bragg office since there are no dental specialists in the area. Dr. Limbird has been using Dental Lasers for over 20 years. Lasers have helped him to provide a higher level of service and excellence to his patients than was previously possible. His most recent technology purchase is the new Solea Carbon Dioxide Dental Laser. With this new laser, Dr. Limbird can prepare and place nearly all of your fillings comfortably and efficiently with NO SHOTS and NO PAIN! No longer do our patients need to fear going to the dentist. Dr. Limbird also has extensive training in Cosmetic Dentistry. He works with only the best dental laboratories and uses the highest quality materials to give you the best smile possible! Dr. Limbird and his wife, Laura, have always loved spending time on the Mendocino Coast. They now live in Mendocino full time and are pleased to be a part of the coastal community.

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