(HealthDay News) -- Thumb sucking may be a soothing pursuit for young children, but the instinctive practice could eventually damage the teeth, experts say.

The American Dental Association suggests ways to help your child stop thumb sucking:

  • Rather than scolding your child for sucking the thumb, offer praise when the child isn't doing it.
  • Find ways to offer comfort and ease anxiety, which may help stem thumb sucking.
  • Have your dentist explain to the child why thumb sucking may be harmful.
  • Bandage the thumb or apply an unpleasant-tasting medication (recommended by your pediatrician) to remind your child to stop the habit.