How Thumb Sucking Affects Oral Health

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How Does Thumb Sucking Affect My Child?

Many children suck their thumb to feel secure, happy, and comfortable while they ease into their environment and learn about their surroundings. Thumb sucking also helps many children fall asleep at night, especially if they’re not feeling well. However, once a child’s adult teeth grow in, thumb sucking could disable the successful development of the mouth and also affect the child’s teeth alignment. The roof of the mouth could also shift and affect the rest of their teeth.

Thumb sucking negatively affects the mouth if done with a lot of force. If children are softly sucking their thumb, then they are less likely to encounter oral health complications in the future. However, if they are aggressively sucking their thumbs, then there’s a high possibility that they will experience issues with their baby teeth, or develop tongue thrust.

Sucking past the ages of 2 to 4 years old is often how children experience mouth discomfort caused by tooth misalignment. Children are more likely to experience misaligned teeth in their upper front teeth than in any other area of the mouth. If parents are able to help their children stop sucking their thumbs before their adult teeth grow in, then there’s a high chance that their bite will fix itself. If not, the parents will have to schedule an appointment with a dental professional to discuss treatment options.

How to Stop Thumb Sucking

Children often discontinue thumb sucking on their own. However, if they are still sucking their thumbs beyond the recommended age, it’s important for parents to avoid teasing or punishing them, especially since those methods do not aid in ridding the habit faster. Some recommended suggestions to help children stop sucking their thumbs are as follows:

  • Compliment your child whenever he or she does not suck their thumb or use their pacifier. Encouragement and praise will more likely prevent them from continuing the behavior. Daily rewards will also make them excited to discontinue the habit.
  • Sometimes, children suck their thumbs when they are bored. Whenever a child does this, find a fun activity for them to do that requires them to use their hands, or find a fun distraction that will prevent them from sucking their thumbs.
  • For children who already show signs of the roof of their mouth shifting, a dentist can offer different devices for parents to put in their child’s mouth that make it uncomfortable for them to suck their thumbs.
  • If none of the methods above help, do not panic. Children tend to stop sucking their thumbs by the time they start school, especially if they don’t see any of their peers doing it.

How Thumb Sucking Affects Oral HealthFortunately, even if a child continues to suck their thumb despite rewards, fun activities, oral devices, or peer pressure, the issue can still be corrected by a dental professional.

San Diego Cosmetic Dentistry

At McBride Dental, we offer numerous services to help our clients maintain and enjoy beautiful, healthy smiles. Some of our services include preventative care methods, cosmetic procedures, and implant dentistry. We are passionate about the health of our clients, which is why we also offer effective homecare methods for them to incorporate into their daily routines in between their annual visits. If you are in the San Diego area and would like to schedule an appointment, call us today at 760-471-1003.

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