Thumb-Sucking, Soda and Nail-Biting…Oh My!

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Let’s face it, all children have bad habits! Whether it’s sucking on their thumb to fall asleep, sipping on sugary beverages, or biting their nails…these are all bad habits that negatively affect your child’s oral health.

Thumb-sucking is one of the most common habits that young children have. Sucking on their thumb can help ease their anxiety at night to help them sleep, or to help them feel secure. This type of behavior should be discouraged around the time your child begins to attend school, which also happens to be when children will begin losing their primary teeth, or baby teeth. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), “Prolonged thumb sucking may cause problems with the proper growth of the mouth and the alignment of teeth. It also can cause changes in the roof of the mouth.” Some children might not outgrow this habit, so parents may need to find a means to put it to an end. My mother tried everything from lemon juice to Band-Aids to stop my thumb-sucking, but the ultimate deterrent for me was a big metal bridge on the roof of my mouth–compliments of my orthodontist!

While thumb-sucking is a habit most children tend to grow out of, especially once they reach school-age and begin to feel pressure from their peers to cease the habit, the prevalence of sugary drinks increases. Sugary beverages, including soda and energy drinks, can cause serious damage to your child’s teeth. The sugar can cause tooth decay and the acid found in sodas can also cause the enamel on one’s teeth to erode. One can of Coca-Cola contains 65g of sugar…that’s equal to about 15 teaspoons of sugar in just ONE CAN! So do your kids’ teeth a favor and limit their intake of sugary beverages and allow them only for special occasions.

Finally onto the nail biting, which is even a bad habit many adults can’t curb. Not only does a person carry a plethora of yucky bacteria under the nail, but nail biting can cause your teeth to “crack, chip, or wear down their front teeth from the stress caused by biting,” according to the ADA. A great way to help little girls curb this habit is to paint their nails. She’ll love dressing up her nails and this may reduce the risk of her having the desire to ruin that pretty little manicure by chomping away! Also for little boys and girls, always make sure to trim their nails short, which can deter this behavior.

To preserving kids smiles one baby step at a time!

Guest Post provided by Rory Mycek, a contributor for, the dental resource site of Everyday Health and partner parenting site,

Disclosure: I was not compensated nor did I receive any perk s from any of the above mentioned locations or author. This post is solely for your information purposes only.

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