The Impact of Thumb-Sucking on Your Child’s Teeth

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Thumb sucking is a very common behavior in younger children. It is an instinct that both soothing and calming. Unfortunately, a lot of new parents are unaware that thumb sucking and even the use of pacifiers will frequently have a negative effect on not just their child’s teeth but their general oral health as well. If a child continues thumb sucking for an extended period of time, it could even cause permanent damage to their adult teeth. 

How Thumb Sucking Can Damage Teeth

The Impact of Thumb-Sucking on Your Child's Teeth

Thumb-sucking is an action that a lot of children engage in as a means of dealing with boredom or as a self-soothing exercise that helps when they are sick, tired, or feeling stressed. Putting a stop to thumb-sucking before they grow their permanent teeth is critical, however, a few effects of this behavior might have already happened.

Adverse impacts of long-term thumb-sucking can include but are not limited to:

  • Palatial Narrowing

Palatial narrowing is a narrowing of the palate that is a common disorder that is caused by the force of thumb constantly pushing against the roof of the mouth, preventing the child’s palate from growing to the proper size. 

  • Misaligning Adult Teeth

Tooth misalignment can be caused when adult teeth can push through the gums at undesirable angles due to the relentless pressure exerted by the thumb against any part of the mouth.

  • Anterior Open Bite

 An anterior open bite is when the front portions of a person’s upper and lower teeth angle outwards, causing a gap between them when their mouth is closed. 

  • Malocclusion

The term malocclusion refers to any configuration of misaligned teeth which can cause many different oral health issues including serious problems with breathing and/or speech.

  • Overbite

An overbite is the name given to the condition wherein the upper teeth stick out well past the lower teeth.

  • General Breathing and Speech Problems

Thumb-sucking can cause oral afflictions that lead to irregular breathing or irregular movements of the tongue when speaking or swallowing, which in turn cause their own set of problems. 

  • Skin Problems

Thumb-sucking can also cause serious problems on the preferred thumb like callouses, ingrown thumbnails, and skin infections caused by cracking and bleeding of the thumb.

  • Delayed Speech Development/Impediment

Thumb-sucking changes the natural growth of your child’s jaw, palate, and teeth, which means it is also able to change the way they speak and eat. Thumb-sucking can lead to speech impediments, such as lisping, which also make it harder to effectively communicate causing your child to feel isolated, angry, and/or frustrated.

Although thumb-sucking is a normal habit and effective self-soothing technique, it can have potentially damaging effects on their overall oral health if it goes on for too long. 

At McBride Dental, we want to help you and your family do everything possible to have and preserve healthy teeth and gums. By scheduling regular appointments with your California family dentist and practicing the oral care techniques we teach you, your whole family will easily maintain teeth that are healthy, strong, and effective.

The San Marcos dental offices of Dr. Michael McBride are staffed with reputable, professional San Diego dentists that are ready to address any concerns you may have regarding common dental procedures, as well as preventative, cosmetic, or restorative dentistry.

It is our job to help you and your family establish healthy dental habits to make sure that your teeth will always be there when you need them and your smile will always look great.

If you would like to schedule an appointment with a San Marcos dentist, please give us a call at (760) 471-1003 and speak with a trained member of our dental staff today.

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