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Tongue-sucking is a habit that many young children develop at an early age. It’s usually seen as an instinctive response to comfort themselves or cope with anxiety. However, this behavior can cause dental issues and affect speech development if it continues past the age of five, which is why parents need to take action and help their child stop tongue-sucking at early ages.

What is tongue-sucking?


So, what is tongue-sucking? Tongue-sucking is a common habit where the child sucks on their own tongue using suction force, often when feeling anxious or overwhelmed. It’s completely normal for babies and toddlers to do this but after three years old it can start to become a problem. If not stopped, the child could develop dental problems such as an open bite (where the upper and lower teeth don’t line up), changes in jaw shape or dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) which regulates jaw movement. Furthermore, prolonged tongue-sucking can also lead to speech problems such as lisps or difficulties forming certain sounds like ‘th’ or ‘l’.

How to break the habit

Fortunately there are steps you can take to help your child break this habit and prevent any further dental issues down the line!

  • Firstly, focus on distractions – if your child starts to suck offer them something else to do like play with toys or draw pictures.
  • Secondly, praise your child when they don’t use their tongue for sucking and reward them for good behavior – stickers work great for this!
  • Thirdly, put a bad taste deterrent like bitter apple spray onto their fingers/thumb so that they will hesitate before doing it again
  • Lastly, try talking openly about the issue with your child – explain why they should stop doing it and tell them that they might feel better if they don’t do it too often.

In conclusion, tongue-sucking is a natural instinctive behavior that many young children have but it needs to be discouraged after three years old otherwise it could cause dental problems in adulthood as well as affect speech development.

Parents should use distraction techniques along with reward systems and bad taste deterrents in order to help their children break this habit before it becomes problematic. With patience and support from parents most little ones will eventually learn how to give up the habit successfully!

By on December 26th, 2022

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