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Health Tip: When a Child Sucks the Thumb

Suggestions to help break the habit

(HealthDay News) -- When a child age 4 or older sucks the thumb, the youngster's dental health may suffer.

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers this advice to help end the habit:

  • Use a sticker chart, rewards and kind reminders to praise your child for not sucking the thumb.
  • Keep your child busy with fun activities, especially those that involve the hands, to prevent boredom.
  • Explain to your child what you will do to help break the habit. If your child seems afraid or upset, consider another method.
  • Do not put too much pressure on the child to stop, and never punish, tease or speak harshly to the child.
  • Talk to the child's dentist or pediatrician if you see changes in the child's tooth alignment or roof of the mouth.
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