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Many children often get bad habits like nail biting or thumb sucking. If you notice your child having dry, chapped or irritated lips, particularly the lower lip, he/she may have a habit of sucking or licking their lips.

Lip sucking is very common among children and a lot of parents are unaware that their kids are doing it. Although this pattern can be challenging to break, with loving support, persistence and patience, you’ll be able to break this habit.


What Causes Lip Sucking?

Dry Lips. Sometimes, lip sucking can be due to a past experience of chapped lips. Your child may unconsciously continue to suck their lips to moisten it even after the lips recovered and become healthy.

Anxiety. Kids may lick or suck their lips when they feel anxious or stressed out due to an unfamiliar situation or environment.

Severe malocclusion. Lip sucking may develop if the child has severe misalignment or overbite. When the upper teeth protrude excessively over the lower lip, it creates an ideal condition for lip sucking.

Effects of Lip Licking and Lip Sucking

Lip Licking. When your child frequently licks his/her teeth, he/she may have swollen lips and irritated skin around the mouth. Constant exposure of lip tissues in saliva can promote redness, irritation and chapping.

Lip Sucking. Excessive lip sucking can cause chapped, dry or irritated lips over time. This can cause pain and discomfort, particularly if there’s already a red ring forming around the mouth. Kids are susceptible to impetigo or cold sores when there’s damage to lip tissue.

Long-term sucking of lips may also cause asymmetric jaw, occlusion and other dental distortions.

How to Help Your Child Break this Habit

This lip sucking habit often disappear in most children without any parental intervention. But if the habit persists, you can help your little one break that habit.

1. Don’t punish the behaviour. Use a lip balm or any relieving lip cream instead, to improve the health of lip tissue while providing distraction to the child.

2. If the child shows frustration with the habit, offer a hug and comforting words.

3. During stressful situations, divert his/her attention. Introduce positive activities to them so they won’t focus on the habit.

4. Offer water regularly as a distraction and to hydrate the lips at the same time. Avoid giving sugary drinks as it can make the child lick their lips further.

5. Give sugar-free candies. Sucking the candy can become a distraction from the lip sucking habit.