Does your child suck his thumb? It's very common: 15% of kids in the United States between the ages of 5 and 9 years partake in this habit. Are you worried about his teeth? Do you want him to STOP? Well, Dr. Susan Braun, a mom and orthodontist, has come-up with a solution.
"All the questions I grappled with as a parent reflected upon my practice and visa versa. So, when faced with the challenge of addressing thumb sucking, I looked at the issue as an opportunity to teach skills I felt invaluable," she explains, noting she could fix the damage caused by thumb sucking with her dental skills. "But something inside told me there was an opportunity to do more than just correct the jaw structure, and there the journey began."
After studying other orthodontists' approaches and speaking to a brain researcher about the time it takes to start or end a habit, she formulated a solution called Thumbow.
She created a kit that contains an arm wrap, finger tape, and a magnetic game board. The physical aids help the child keep his finger out of his mouth. A calendar tracks progress. Rewards and positive reinforcement inspire motivation and encouragement. As a busy mom of three, Braun knew how important it was to have all materials and instructions ready for immediate use.
"The next time a child walked through the door who had a thumb habit I immediately reached for the kit. I sat there with the child and parent and discussed the program, answered questions and encouraged them to begin the process of habit breaking on their own. Our success rate skyrocketed," she says, adding that all family members feel really good when progress is made. "Orthodontic treatment was not always averted, but a life skill had been gained. Life is full of challenges, but most are attainable if you prepare well, stay on task, do not get deterred by failure, and stay focused on the goal one day at a time."
Braun's office was in Greenwich, though she is no longer in private practice. She is currently teaching at New York University's dental school.
Click here for more information about the Thumbow system.