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finger sucking at age 11 - we've got to find a way to help DS stop

(31 Posts)
mckenzie Mon 17-Dec-12 17:14:49

His over bite is about 11 mm, he can't swallow properly because his lips don't meet and he's scarring his bottom lip because his upper teeth rest on it.

In the past we have tried

Stop and Grow, the nasty lotion you put on the nails,
A finger guard
positive reinforcement
bribery
tape
gloves

It's mainly at night but sometimes when he's watching TV etc.

We've just been to the dentist and she is warning us that he needs to break the habit asap. DS wants to stop and says he will but he's said that before. Can anyone recommend anything else that we can try to help him?

TIA

LaCiccolina Mon 17-Dec-12 17:20:27

Why is this do bothersome? Sorry I see it really is for u I'm trying to understand why dentist says it has to stop? Is she saying that's what's causing overbite? Be v surprised and can be corrected with braces often?

I suppose I'm asking if its because u don't like it eg nail biting or if a full on medical reason I've missed in above?

It's usually absent minded behaviour / stress or boredom. At least is with my nails!

beckyboo232 Mon 17-Dec-12 17:24:34

Not sure what to suggest really. I sucked my thumb until I was at least 14 then stopped naturally, though dp tells me I still do it when asleep if I'm exhausted! My parents never made it a issue and it never was for me. The dentist offered me braces as naturally my teeth weren't dead straight but as they work I chose not too. Could your sons not be fixed with braces, I imagine the act of wearing them would make the finger sucking uncomfortable so may stop the cause?

ZuleikaD Mon 17-Dec-12 17:34:59

DH still sucks his thumb - I don't see the problem. The dentist doesn't have any evidence that his mouth problems are caused by his finger-sucking - presumably he doesn't have them in there literally all the time.

tharsheblows Mon 17-Dec-12 17:39:40

When I was about the same age (so long ago!) thumb sucking caused massive problems for me and I wanted to stop, too. The thing that worked was putting an Ace bandage on my arm so I couldn't comfortably bend it to suck my thumb. I wore this at night until the habit was broken. I realise it sounds a bit harsh but it wasn't, I was all for it.

3b1g Mon 17-Dec-12 17:42:36

Can you get hold of one of those plastic splints that go on broken fingers? That might break the seal between mouth and finger, which would make them pretty hard to suck.

3b1g Mon 17-Dec-12 17:44:41

Or maybe that's what you meant by finger guard. Sorry if it was.

queenofthepirates Mon 17-Dec-12 17:48:51

Practically speaking, how about something to do with his hands? Can you teach him how to knit, sew or crochet? It's possible to knit and watch TV when he gets good and it will keep his hands out of his mouth. I think you need to find something to break the habit and distract him.

PS, my apologies now if you get a shed load of jumpers for Birthdays/mothers' day and ever after.

CatchingMockingbirds Mon 17-Dec-12 17:50:35

Have you tried other self soothing methods like fidget toys?

mckenzie Mon 17-Dec-12 18:38:14

thanks for all the replies.
Yes, we have tried beads, magnetic balls and other things to sit and play with which are great for wakeful hours but not good for bedtime, which is when it is most prevalent.

The aesthetic issues are probably mine (He has two fingers in his mouth and the third up his nose) but he can't swallow as you or I would and can't chew like you or I so when he eats, he ends up with food stains all round his mouth like a baby. He doesn't want that any more.

Apparently if he can stop now before all his adult teeth come in. it should be that braces can realign the teeth etc but if he carries on, the likelyhood is that he will need surgery because the sucking has pushed the upper jaw so far forward and the lower jaw backwards.

beckyboo232 Mon 17-Dec-12 18:46:19

The aesthetic issues as I said wouldn't bother me but sounds like this could be a serious medical issue. Just out of curiosity have you sought a second opinion? I know a boy who Had similar issues and the teeth corrected themselves. I don't really know what to suggest as certainly with me it is a unconscious reflex it only kicks in these days when I'm really exhausted and fast asleep. Have you considered something like hypnotherapy maybe?

ArielTheBahHumbugMermaid Mon 17-Dec-12 18:51:48

I sucked my thumb until I was 18.

I stopped when I left home. My mother trying to make me stop just made me more anxious, particularly when she used to tell me there must be something wrong with me.

Obviously I'm not suggesting you speak to your son like that, but personally I think it's best to let him stop on his own. Sorry.

Bigwuss Mon 17-Dec-12 18:57:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mckenzie Mon 17-Dec-12 18:58:20

DS has always said that he wants to stop. We have been for a second opinion and actually, even a third. All three have said the same thing.
We do keep it low key, we don't nag him or make a big issue of it. We just casually remind him that he's doing it when he's unaware and at night time, we just take his fingers out while he's asleep. He never wakes up or seems at all disturbed.

sannaville Mon 17-Dec-12 19:01:49

Had same prob with my dd1 we used plasters on fingers during day and at night long socks on hands pulled up to elbows then a tight top (like an under armour/base layer) over thrm so she couldn't get them off in her sleep. It's now stopped thankfully. Took a couple months of sleeping like that though. Good luck!

MrsMerryMeeple Mon 17-Dec-12 19:22:15

Mittens with no thumbs on his hands at night? That you tie on and he can't get off on his own?

Ducky5867 Mon 17-Dec-12 19:24:38

I used to suck my thumb until about 13 when I stopped naturally.

It didn't work for me, but i was given a mouth guard by the dentist, at age of 10 to try to make stop at night.

However, I just took out in my sleep and threw it across my bedroom - never knew i that I did it and it was always a game of hunt the mouth guard in the morning!

This was 20 yrs ago now, so there maybe something the dentist can give you so your DS can't physically get his fingers in his mouth whilst sleeping with the guard, but is harder to remove than mine was - maybe worth a discussion with the dentist.

fryingpanalley Mon 17-Dec-12 19:35:29

If you want you can tell him about the joys of my jaw surgery, including the nice bit where they broke my jawbone and re-set it and then removed four teeth, under general anaesthetic with a two night hospital stay. Sore throat afterwards from the tube down my throat, hugely swollen, unable to eat, mouth full of cotton wool etc. etc.
Twas horrid. It was also compounded with what felt like several years of train tracks braces, the agonising pain every month when they were tightened, the scraping on the inside of my mouth and resultant ulcers, the headgear when I went to bed and how difficult it was to sleep, crying in pain at night etc. etc.
And my teeth are STILL not looking perfect!

Leafmould Mon 17-Dec-12 19:39:58

I recall my colleague telling me about this. Apparently the dentist was going to glue spikes onto the roof of the child's mouth so that it was unconfortable to suck.

Have you used the yucky nailbiting stuff?

mckenzie Mon 17-Dec-12 22:33:08

wow fryingpanalley, that sounds awful. You poor poor thing. I will show him your post.
When he went to bed tonight he actually asked me to put something on his fingers so we did a triple layer of tissue and lots of tape. It was a different dentist that we saw today and she spoke to him differently (I can't quite put my finger on 'how' differently but definitely something was different) and he seems to be responding in a changed way. Fingers crossed when i go upstairs now that his fingers aren't in his mouth grin

bubbles1231 Mon 17-Dec-12 22:42:39

He won't need surgery if you ask for referral to an orthodontist now. My DS also has 11mm overbite and no finger sucking. Anything over 7mm is classed as an orthodontic emergency (ie 3mth wait to be seen not 1year ). If they catch him in his prepubertal growth spurt ,which usually starts around 11.5-12yrs , a bite plate will encourage the bottom jaw to grow. It should take less than 6mths to correct if worn all the time. If the growth spurt is missed then yes surgery is the only option.
Having the bite plate may discourage the finger sucking too.

Madallie Mon 17-Dec-12 22:48:05

I sucked my thumb until 10 yo. I did it all the time, awake and asleep. The thing that stopped me was being told by the dentist that if I didn't stop now, that I'd have to wear a head brace contraption to school (I was soon to start secondary school). I remember that this really worried me and I never sucked my thumb again from that moment.

Up until then my parents had tried everything to get me to stop but in the end it was the thought of the embarrassment I would feel at school.

tharsheblows Mon 17-Dec-12 23:05:53

This type of bandage is what I used around my elbow so I couldn't easily stick my thumb in my mouth. I did it when I slept and that helped me stop.

I also had massive surgery- still have metal in my face and it will set off those little home metal detectors (but not airport ones, phew!).

hiviolet Mon 17-Dec-12 23:20:03

A few people seem to be suggesting that the OP is overreacting - the poor boy can't even close his mouth anymore!

Wish I had advice, but as a survivor of years of orthodontic work as an early teen, good luck! The results are so worth it.

ZuleikaD Tue 18-Dec-12 06:48:45

There's no evidence that the OP's son's fingersucking has caused the orthodontic problems though. You'd have to be sucking something 24 hours a day for years on end for it actually to affect your mouth, it's just something that dentists like to blame.

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