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How do we discoruage thumb-sucking?
Q: My daughter is almost 4½ and still sucks her thumb. Her dentist told me it would affect her teeth if she doesn't stop soon, and she already has an overbite. We've tried nagging her about it but she still does it when she's tired, bored, or nervous. Any advice?
Lisa Baltimore
A: Dear Lisa in Baltimore …

Thumb-sucking is a very common habit that we would like to see stopped by 4½, and there are different approaches to help children break the habit. Some children only suck their thumb to go to sleep and continue sucking while they are sleeping. This type of habit usually requires an anti-thumb appliance that is glued in to the upper teeth and cannot be seen; it helps children break the habit and allows their jaws and teeth to grow into a better position. Other children suck their thumb day and night and may require other treatments. One treatment that works with some children is applying a clear nail polish with an unpleasant taste to their thumbnails. There are also wrist guards, bandages, etc., that children can wear to prevent thumb sucking. If you are having a hard time getting your daughter to break this habit, you may want to contact a pediatric dentist or an orthodontist for help.