What can you do in the meantime ?
Prolonged sucking habits definitely adversely affect dental growth, health and development but are usually difficult to eliminiate unless a child is ready to stop and also understands cause and effect as well as the harmful consequences of the habit and that working toward positive "rewards" is motivating. It requires a consistent program approach.
Sucking actually releases endorphin-type transmitters in the brain to produce the calming effect that one gets from sucking. We need to have sucking occur as seldom (hopefully not at all) as possible for 3 months to "break" the cycle. It takes dedication but can usually be done :) Age 5, the "magic age" is a great time!
Meanwhile, increase activities that keep the mouth and attention busy, busy! Times when child most apt to suck (especially during the day) is when unoccupied, in the car, watching TV/Videos, "bored". We need to be vigilant at these times to step in and supply something he/she enjoys already; you might give a mint or lifesaver/gum; play talking games ("I'm thinking of something...", "Guess Who?", etc). The sky's the limit but you know your child best. Sometimes, simply stopping what you are doing and sitting and holding, talking, even singing to him/her will be enough.
After your child falls asleep, check for sucking. As he/she falls asleep, you might do a very gentle massage. Sucking usually occurs as the child is falling asleep and also if they get restless in the night. If you are aware of a restless night, go and check more often. Just tuck their thumbs under the pillow.
Introduce as many chewy foods in the diet throughout the day; chewing gum, carrots, popcorn, granola. That would be great. Have Fun with the possibilities! You can try a little Oral Exercise program just before bed...and also in the morning (or if you observe sucking other times). Exercise a maximum of 3 short (3 to 5 min) times per day. Dad, babysitter, etc. should be enlisted in these "projects" :)
MOTTO: Reduce frequency and duration.
As for insurance coverage: They probably will not cover therapy but it is really worth your calling to make sure. The evaluation code would be CPT-4 92506. Treatment probably 92507. The specific diagnosis code is ICD-9 524.59 (they must check the fifth digit) and may have other applicable codes I can determine after we meet. Your rep should be able to check out coverage for you.
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