Thumb Sucking Easy Out HELP

  • Socially Speaking

Thumb Sucking Easy Out HELP

(Easy Out Habit Elimination Program)

Easy Out HELP in 4 weeks!

Most children over the age of 4 or 5 can participate in an oral habit elimination program. The parents are their biggest supporters and they must agree to provide positive support throughout the transition to full habit elimination. This can seem like a difficult accomplishment, but with the support of a professional who specializes in orofacial myology and consistent communication between the parents, child and provider (or adult client and provider), it can be a very quick, easy process. Many children want to eliminate their habit right away given the love and support conveyed and the knowledge that they can do it.

Adolescents through adults also may have prolonged sucking habits that are more difficult to eliminate. However, it can be accomplished as well. They should not be made to feel ashamed about their habit. Some hide it and only do it when no one else can see, so they may be seeking out help on their own and thus are extremely self-motivated, but not necessarily with loved ones’ support if they are engaging in a secret habit.

Easy Out HELP is preferable over the punitive fixed device approach like a crib placed in a child’s mouth by a dental professional. In addition to being a negative response and making a person feel bad physically and emotionally, it also does not help with teaching proper resting position of the tongue, which a prolonged oral habit may promote.

Sucking is innate. Sucking is a newborn reflex that is designed to provide a newborn with nourishment and be able to nurse. Once a baby develops growth in the mouth and muscles are more developed, they don’t need to suck anymore, developing instead more sophisticated patterns of acquiring nourishment. Why do some kids continue to suck? It can relieve the pressure of the Eustachian tube that may be as a result of chronic ear fluid, and also creates endorphins which makes a person feel better. This may create habitual sucking, long after the need for it has been resolved. Sucking provides self-soothing and calming, but after the permanent teeth start to erupt, it can cause other problems.

Other habits are included here, such as:
• Lip licking
• Lip biting
• Cheek sucking
• Cheek chewing
• Tongue sucking
• Nail biting
• Hair chewing
• Fabric chewing
• Pencil chewing
• Various types of digit sucking

Prolonged sucking habits past the age of 4 should be eliminated when the child is mature enough to do so because the muscle patterns of the oral cavity should be normalized before the eruption of permanent teeth begins.

Continued sucking habits can cause any of the following:
• Dental malocclusions including overjet, open bite (anterior and/or lateral)
• Increase of the freeway space resulting in long and narrow facial skeletal growth, with a high narrow palate
• Low, forward resting posture of the tongue
• Articulation distortions – particularly for “s,z,sh,ch,j, zh” and “l,n,d,t”
• Oral swallowing difficulties
• Underdevelopment of oral facial musculature for speech and swallowing
• Overdevelopment of oral facial musculature for speech and swallowing

Shira Kirsh, MS, CCC-SLP, COM is a Certified Orofacial Myologist by the International Association of Orofacial Myology (IAOM).