Thumb sucking habit program
Do you have a thumbsucker or dummy sucker and have tried everything to help them stop? Our unique thumb sucking program is based on the Certificated Thumbsucking Clinic’s highly successful and supportive cessation program.
We engage the child who is ready to stop their habit, but just doesn’t know how to go about it.
We strive to motivate and support our young clients to build their confidence and together we work toward achieving a successful outcome over our 14 week program.
By working “with” the child, we are able to encourage autonomy, allowing them to control and then eliminate their thumb sucking habit. We also take the pressure off Mum and Dad. This means you get to do all of the fun things and the Thumbsucking Centre handle the rules of the Thumbsucking program.
Ideally, we like to work with children older than 5 years, however we also offer strategies and programs for the younger child who might still be using a pacifier or suck their fingers or thumb.
We love the sense of achievement and pride our young children display once they have finally quit their thumb sucking habit.
Contact us for an initial consult.
Dummy Cessation – Getting rid of the dummy isn’t easy.
Children start sucking very early as a natural and normal stage in oral development. It’s not unusual for parents to report seeing ultrasound imaging of their unborn child sucking their thumb in utero.
Often infants are given a pacifier in hospital to assist them with self settling and some infants find their fingers and thumbs at an early age.
This is all pretty normal, until the habit persists and gets in the way of normal function and speech.
We encourage you to try to wean your child off the dummy around six months of age and definitely before they start walking. If the habit persists then try to restrict the use of the dummy to night time only.
We will be happy to discuss our dummy program with you.
Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy (OMT)
Orofacial myofunctional therapy involves a course of therapy to train the muscles to function properly. The goals of OMT are to gain a lip seal with nasal breathing, an elevated tongue to the front palate, and have a normal swallow without forward posturing or a tongue thrust on swallow.
A full orofacial myofunctional assessment will determine if your child has any ongoing functional concerns. We will discuss the need for referrals to other medical or dental providers if necessary, to promote and achieve optimum health for your child.
If your child has the need, we will discuss how we can help your child with a program of Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy (OMT).
We want to:
- Eliminate non-nutritive sucking and chewing habits
- Eliminate open mouth posture
- Promote nasal breathing,
- Correct tongue rest posture ( pre and post tongue tie release )
- Correct muscle function for chewing, swallowing and speech
- Correct swallow pattern
- Promote and support normal facial and dental development.
- Prevent relapse of orthodontic treatment
Our goal is to provide customized treatment for your child while working with the recommended treatment plan of your dentist, orthodontist, or speech pathologist to collectively achieve the best oral function and balance.
Tongue Thrust Therapy
While your child is at rest and not exercising, they should be breathing through their nose with the lips together. Inside the mouth, we like to have the tongue resting up high on the palate with the upper and lower teeth resting a few millimetres apart.
Tongue thrust is a term used to describe a way of swallowing, where the tongue pushes forward against or through the front teeth. All babies start off swallowing in this manner, but with growth and development, their swallow pattern matures and changes.
Sometimes due to sucking habits, prolonged bottle feeding, poor feeding choices, genetics and other physical factors like weak muscles or jaw structure, this immature swallowing pattern continues into childhood. Tongue thrust can cause misalignment of teeth and speech problems.
Tongue thrust therapy will coordinate the jaw muscles and encourage the tongue to stay away from the front teeth. We also assess and review the manner which food is accepted into the mouth in preparation to chew and swallow.
Sometimes on completion of tongue thrust therapy, Speech Pathology might be required or an Orthodontic consultation to assess the effect the tongue has had on the development of the teeth and the jaws.
Messy eating and poor saliva control
We understand that some children have difficulties receiving food cleanly into the mouth. The body needs food, so it will do whatever it takes to create a swallowing pattern to enable us to eat the foods we like and need.
If there is low tone and poor saliva control, meal times can become very slow and messy. When tongue function is altered either from prolonged use of a bottle or a pacifier, an ongoing thumb habit or perhaps a tongue tie, muscles will develop atypical patterns of use.
Children with an orofacial myofunctional disorder might find the act of eating slow, messy and noisy – often with a partially chewed bolus before it’s swallowed. Poorly chewed foods can lead to further problems with digestion which is not our area of expertise, however we will help with the first phase of the chewing and swallowing process.
An open mouth posture and poor lip seal can lead to problems with controlling the swallowing of saliva.
We can provide therapy managing the slow messy eater or the child who drools.
Finger-nail and other oral habit cessation
We are happy to assess and discuss any other oral habits your child might be displaying. Biting fingernails, chewing on lips, licking lips or a tongue thrust habit.
What you can do at home
There are lots of things you can do at home.
0 – 3 year olds
- Breast feed your child if it’s possible. Posture your baby’s ear higher than their mouth to avoid ear and congestion problems.
- If you are bottle feeding then look out for a teat which has a flat low profile. Always remember – ear higher than mouth.
- Do not allow your child to feed themselves or prop feed your child.
- Always supervise their feeding and do not put your child to bed with a bottle (brush teeth before bed).
- Give your child a normal cup to drink from as early as possible.
- A straw cup and a straw sports bottle is the next best option. Sippy Cups and spout cups are not recommended.
- Introduce solid foods from around six months of age and allow them to self feed with your direct supervision.
- Avoid “Pop Tops” and food pouches for snacks (yoghurts and pureed foods). A spoon and bowl is best.
- Encourage chewing on the back gums with purpose oral chewing toys. Equal chews each side regularly.
- Only allow your child the dummy for night time sleep and attempt to remove the dependency on it before they start walking.
3-10 year olds
- Provide a full range of food choices for your child – including firm crunchy foods.
- Avoid food pouches for yoghurts and pureed foods. A spoon and bowl is best.
- Avoid sippy cups and sports bottles. Drink from a normal drinking cup as a first preference or a straw bottle if necessary.
- Avoid “Pop Top” style drink bottles.
- Children in this age group should not have a dummy.
- Try motivating your child to reduce sucking their thumb with positive motivation at home. A start would be to reduce it to night time only.
- You can try aversive options like a thumb guard, nail polish or a glove.
Good luck. We are here if you need us.