Thumb Sucking and Child Essay

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Thumb Sucking
According to the American Dental Association 66% of 0-2 year olds, 25% of 3-6 year olds, and 9% of children over 6 years old suck their thumbs. At birth, babies will reflexively suck any object placed in its mouth; this is the thumb sucking reflex responsible for breastfeeding. The reflex disappears at about four months of age. Thumb sucking is not all an instinctive behavior; therefore it can last much longer. Ultrasounds have revealed that thumb sucking can begin before birth, as early as 15 weeks (Benjamin). Sometimes parents may wonder why do children suck their thumbs, how do I break the habit, and what are the effects?
Thumb sucking is a very common habit during childhood, and is normal in babies and young
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It is important to stop the thumb sucking habit before the child’s permanent teeth begin to erupt. Children who are unable to stop the habit on their own by the age of 5 may need help. In rare cases, thumb-sucking after age 5 is in response to an emotional problem or other disorder, such as anxiety. A child with this type of problem needs to be evaluated by a doctor. Most other children stop sucking their thumbs after simple treatment measures are introduced. There are several ways to help a child break the habit. Don’t pressure the child to stop; it may just reinforce the habit. Talk to the child about possible reasons for thumb sucking and ways you can work together to break the habit. Reward the child when they do not suck their thumb, instead of scolding them when they do. Set up an incentive system to reward the child’s progress. Ask your dentist to encourage your child to stop. It may be helpful to limit the times and places that your child is allowed to suck his or her thumb and to put away blankets or other items your child associates with thumb-sucking. When children are unable to stop on their own, the orthodontist or dentist can place an oral appliance in the child’s mouth that prevents the habit. The device can usually stop thumb sucking within a few days. In some cases the appliance needs to stay inside the mouth for six to ten months to be effective. Whatever method is used to encourage a child to stop thumb-sucking, it is
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