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Stop Thumb-sucking

If your child is older than 2 or 3 and still sucks their thumb, it is time to help them break the habit. “You want children to stop sucking their

thumb before they begin to develop their permanent teeth,” says Joy L. LeDoux-Johnson, MD, internal medicine physician and pediatrician at Saint Francis Medical Center. “If a child sucks his or her thumb past 2 to 4 years of age, the roof of their mouth will become misshapen.”

To break the habit, try positive reinforcement. “Reward them for small accomplishments, such as not sucking their thumb when they wake up in the LeDoux-Johnson_Joymorning,” says LeDoux-Johnson.

You can also try keeping your child’s hands busy. If they are having a hard time stopping, you can put a guard on the roof of their mouth to prevent it from becoming misshapen. The guard also causes discomfort when your child tries to suck their thumb.

For more information, call 573-331-3000.

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