When it comes to putting a stop to a baby or toddler’s habit, thumbsucking has to be one of the most challenging. After all, it is not an option to take the thumb away as a parent would do with the bottle, pacifier or blanket.

Why Do Babies Suck Their Thumbs?

One of the reasons that putting a stop to thumbsucking is so difficult for parents is that it is a natural activity for babies. They did it in the womb and most, if not all, will continue to do it outside the womb, whether it is sucking their thumb, toes, a pacifier or anything within reach. After some time, babies can rely on thumbsucking as their only means to soothe themselves.

Why Should Thumbsucking Be Stopped Sooner Than Later?

If this habit continues into toddlerhood when a child is 2 years old and beyond, thumbsucking may begin to impede language development, have an effect on tooth development and put unnecessary pressure on a child’s jaw. This may eventually lead to a child needed braces or Invisalign. So, the big question now is, how to stop thumbsucking. Not only how to stop thumbsucking, but how to do it in a manner where a child will not have a complete and total meltdown for what seems like an eternity. Read on for the top 5 tips on how to stop thumbsucking once and for all!

5 Ways to Stop Thumbsucking

1. Limit thumbsucking to times and/or places when the child needs it most.

For example, most children tend to suck their thumbs to help them fall asleep, calm down after a tantrum or when they are encountering an anxiety provoking situation. Attempt to prevent thumbsucking during any other times, such as when playing in the park, sitting at the dinner table or watching television. This will diminish the frequency of thumbsucking and help slowly wean them off for good.

2. Germs, germs and more germs!

Explain how many germs end up on hands throughout the day and how unsanitary thumbsucking can be. Of course, do so in a child’s language so he/she understands what unsanitary means. Explain that little bugs called germs live on children and adults’ bodies, especially on hands because that is what we use to touch everything. If we suck our thumbs, those germs end up in our mouth and eventually in our bellies. This makes us sick and may keep us from being able to play with our friends and play outside.

3. Provide regular praise

Any time a child is observed not sucking his or her thumb, they should be praised so they realize they are not just being told when not to do it, but are also being reminded and praised when they are remembering not to. Children need regular praise throughout the day, regardless of the habit that is being encouraged or prevented.

4. Talk to children about thumbsucking

Ask them why they suck their thumbs? How does thumbsucking make them feel? What else can they do instead of suck their thumbs? Offer suggestions that don’t require another object to hold or always have with them. Give them a hug and encourage them to talk to you when they feel anxious, scared, sad or tired. Show children that you are able to help them get past any obstacle, thumbsucking included. This will carry on into bigger, more serious conversations and issues later on in life.

5. Glove up!

Last but not least, take the proactive approach and, while also considering the above four suggestions, get a fun, thumbsucking glove to help remind children not to place their thumb in their mouth. For example, the Glovey Huggey is a glove with a thumb guard and cutouts for the rest of the fingers. It is available with fun prints and patterns and kids will actually want to wear it.

Any tips we missed? Leave them in the comments!

It is well known that fluoride, an element found in most water
sources, has numerous dental benefits. It is essential to proper oral care.
Fluoride can strengthen teeth and prevent tooth decay by keeping the acid
produced by the bacteria in plaque from dissolving the enamel of our teeth. It
cannot restore teeth with cavities, but it can
prevent cavities, and it also reverses the early stages of tooth decay by
allowing tooth enamel to repair, or remineralize, itself. Fluoridated water,
toothpaste, mouthwash, and supplement pills are all sources of fluoride.

Proper fluoride intake is an important part of a well-rounded
dental health regimen. Infants and young children don’t require as much,
however, when carefully monitored, a child’s intake of fluoride is still a
beneficial and necessary part of their oral care.

Fluoride Intake for

Infants require the least amount of fluoride of any age group.
Fluoride supplements, which are usually prescribed when children live in an
area without fluoridated water, are not necessary for infants. For children
under six months of age, the water used to prepare a baby’s formula provides
sufficient fluoride. Baby formula generally contains fluoride already, with milk-based
formulas containing less fluoride than soy-based formulas. Because of this,
parents have the option of supplementing the level of fluoride contained in
baby formula by preparing their child’s formula with tap water or fluoridated
bottled water. If they want to limit their child’s fluoride intake, they can
use non-fluoridated bottled water.

Some parents also choose to breastfeed as a way to limit
fluoride intake. It should be noted, however, that breast milk contains only
very small trace amounts of fluoride, and a breast milk fed baby receives
virtually no fluoride exposure. Parents are advised to consult with a dentist
to determine how to ensure their infants receive the right amount of fluoride.

When baby teeth begin appearing, parents can brush their
child’s teeth with an infant toothbrush using water and a tiny smear of
toothpaste. Children’s teeth should be brushed this way until around age two.

Fluoride Intake for
Young Children

After the age of two, children begin brushing their own teeth,
thus regularly ingesting fluoride in their toothpaste. Past this age, most of
their fluoride intake comes from water, so children should only use a small
amount of toothpaste when they brush. A pea-sized amount is more than
sufficient, and children should always use a toothpaste that carries the ADA’s seal
of approval.

Under the age of six, children should not use mouth wash that
contains fluoride. Younger children have a tendency to swallow too much
toothpaste while brushing, and if they use mouthwash, there is a high
likelihood of them swallowing that as well. Parents should supervise young
children when they are brushing their teeth to ensure they are not swallowing
their toothpaste. It is around this age when, if a child lives in an area
without a fluoridated water supply, a dentist might prescribe fluoride
supplements to build their fluoride intake beyond toothpaste.

Fluoride is a pivotal part of maintaining proper dental health.
While fluoride intake needs to be carefully monitored in infants and young
children to avoid overexposure, parents should not be deterred from recognizing
the benefits. Speaking with a dentist or pediatric dentist is an excellent way
to learn more about caring for children’s teeth, and obtaining more information
about fluoride needs. 

In honor of February serving as National Children’s Dental Health month, we wanted to provide parents with some tips on how they can help ensure their children have healthy teeth. Helping kids develop good dental care habits early is important in order to maintain that dental health throughout their lives.

Here are 7 simple steps parents can follow to help their kid’s smile shine.

1. Brush

Like adults, children should brush twice daily for two to three minutes, ideally early in the morning and before going to bed. Schedule your child’s nighttime brushing before they get too tired. If your child usually  nods off at 9:00, have them do their nightly brushing/flossing at 8:15 or 8:30. Children are always more cooperative before the Sandman comes knocking.

2. Flossing

Flossing should begin when two teeth touch each other. Have your dentist show you the right flossing technique and schedule.

3. Assist

Plan to help your children until they start first grade. Experts note that children often don’t have the fine motor skills to brush until about age 6 and they can’t floss capably until around age 10.

4. Motivation

Learn what motivates your child. Younger children may gladly brush for gold stars on a chart or stickers of their favorite TV characters. Remember though, offering treats like cookies or candy would be counterproductive.

5. Establish Habits

Involve your child with their dental habits in an age-appropriate manner. For instance, a younger child may want to pick their own toothpaste from options you approve. Same with toothbrushes. You may offer them a choice of toothbrushes that are decorated with their favorite cartoon character, are brightly colored or has their favorite color.

6. Mouthwash

Ask your dentist how early your child can begin using mouthwash. As a rule, rinsing isn’t advised until the child knows to spit the mouth rinse out.

7. Set the Example

Set a good example yourself by brushing daily and flossing regularly.