Sunday, September 20, 2009

Thumb Wars

Few people, other than parents, know about the extensive, pre-dental demands of the Tooth Fairy. She has managed to maintain her unblemished reputation using just about any means available to her...even blackmail.

Right now, my family is flirting with breach of contract. We're teetering on the brink of disaster. The stress is catching up to us. The pressure is on.

You see, on the night a baby cuts their first tooth, the parents of said baby have a sit down with none other than The Fairy herself. She reviews the terms of her contract (brushing daily, trips to dentist semi-annually, candy, juice, & gummy snacks only in moderation, sugar-free gum, no bottles in bed, etc.), the parental parties lock in on their fixed or variable rate agreement for the price of each baby tooth, and the deal is sealed with signatures in triplicate.

Overall, adhering to this contract has not been too difficult over the years. Until now.

Item 1.203.b of the Fairy-Parent Pre-Dental Agreement states clearly, "Upon the release of the first baby tooth, the bearer will no longer partake in such oral habits such as pacifiers and/or thumb-sucking."

Tick-tock, tick-tock. The deadline is quickly approaching.

A few weeks ago, BigGirl woke up and excitedly declared, "I HAVE A LOOSE TOOTH!" FireDaddy and I quickly inspected and confirmed her discovery - it was her first.

I quickly explained to her the new urgency and importance of curtailing her thumb-sucking. She grimaced as she took it all in. "Because if you suck your thumb as your big teeth are coming in, your teeth will be crooked and you will have to have BRACES! And they HURT! (I know because I had them.)" I tried hard to instill a healthy dose of fear for her own dental future. It was a waste of my breath.

Ms. Nice Mommy has now left the building. All of my sweet, gentle methods of encouraging her to stop sucking her thumb are now a thing of the past. We've used band-aids, nail polish, and Thum in desperation. We continue to try to scare her into compliance, as well, with tales of sore teeth and monthly orthodontist visits for tightenings from my past. Stories of her aunt, who required a dental appliance (a SHARP, POKEY one that HURT her thumb) to stop, do not seem to worry her. Thum worked for a day or two, but now she seems to have found a way to suck it off! We now scold her every time we see the thumb in her mouth, but now she just hides and sucks her thumb.

I am at a loss. I do not know what to do next.

I remember seeing a mother and daughter in a store one day a year or so ago. The daughter was much older than my BigGirl. I remember noticing a brace on her thumb and thought her thumb must be broken. Wrong. A minute later, I heard the mother explaining to someone that they were trying to stop a "bad habit". That is the only idea I have left in my bag of tricks.

I need to hear from you, readers. Have you know anyone who fought this battle? Are YOU a recovering thumb-addict? Do you have experience with Thumb Interventions?

Let me know! What can I do to help my BigGirl beat this addiction before it destroys her dental health and we are sued for breach of contract???

(P.S. FireDaddy keeps threatening to use his pocket knife, and I'd really hope to avoid permanently disfiguring her hand.)


  1. Unfortunately, the best time to end this habit is at the first birthday. No more bottles, no more pacifier, and no more thumb. Every day past that day, it becomes more and more difficult! (I know it doesn't help you much, but it may help your readers. FYI-My son had braces at 5 years old! He couldn't swallow because of the misalignment of his teeth caused by a head injury during birth. He never sucked his thumb and still ended up with braces.)

    My sister put mittens on one of her children. My cousin used a point system with her 5 year old with rewards and consequences. Remember it takes 30 days to establish a habit but only three days to lose it. Good luck!

  2. We battled this with my youngest. My husband would just keep repeating, "thumb out!" in the "daddy" voice everytime he saw her with her thumb in her mouth. I was on the bribing side. We wouldn't let her paint her finger nails which was a big thing for her. Once she went a few days I would paint her nails but if she was caught with her thumb in her mouth the nail polish would come off. Then it would be a week before she could have them painted again. It was awful for me because she would do it when she was sleepy and ready for bed. (After all she was still my baby.) Having her dad come out just as she was dozing off and yell "out of your mouth". She would jump, pull the thumb out and then look very sad and teary as she tried to fall asleep without the beloved thumb. It took some time and constant repeating to take the thumb out but it work. Be strong! It will happen.

  3. I could have sworn my parents used some sort of bitter apple spray, but upon Googling it, I discovered that it's meant for dogs, so I'm hoping I'm remembering incorrectly, LOL. Good luck!

  4. I know a girl who still sucks her thumb. She's my age. Her teeth are fine. Nice even. Maybe she'll stop when she's ready. Big Girl, not my friend. She likes sucking her thumb and feels no need to stop.

    I'd also like to add that this is why I am a strong supporter of using pacifiers to provide babies with their soothing, suckling needs. You can throw a binky out, but not a thumb!

    Anyway. Good luck.

  5. I can't help you with this. We went through the same thing and nothing worked. One day, she just stopped. She was 6. least her teeth aren't messed up by it.

    Of course, she switched from sucking her thumb to biting her nails. never ends.


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