How Can Thumb Sucking Affect My Childs Teeth?

Thumb sucking is a completely normal activity that some babies develop even before they’re born. It is a natural anxiety-management habit for your child. Thumb sucking helps a child to feel relaxed and secure, as well as helps them fall asleep with ease and comfort. Though this habit is apparently safe and harmless for younger children, it can result in some serious dental and oral health issues when the habit cannot be stopped between the ages of 2 to 4 years.

Let’s explore some of the adverse effects of thumb sucking that can impact your child’s dental and oral development, and how you can help your child to stop the thumb sucking habit.

Thumb Sucking and Oral Health

Misalignment between teeth

The mouth of your child should not be held half-open for a long period of time. The tendons can be exhausted and even causing the jaw joint to be pulled out of its’ position. Unfortunately, if the jaw joint is displaced at this age, it may fuse that way resulting in a permanent underbite or overbite.

Slanted Teeth

Just as you use braces to move your teeth over time, thumb sucking can have a similar effect which can result in causing them to slant outwards. This can seriously affect the dental structure and beauty of your child’s teeth at this early age and cause long term effects.

Speech problems

Thumb sucking can also be the main reason for bringing changes in the roof of the mouth. As it grows, the roof of the mouth starts responding to certain pressures. When your child sucks his or her thumb, it creates pressure against the roof and causes the roof to develop a narrow groove. This is one possible cause of speech impediments.

Mouth Sores

Aggressive thumb sucking may irritate the mouth walls enough to cause sores and bacterial infection. Though aggressive sucking is a more critical problem than passive sucking, both of them can be considered as unhealthy.

Solving the Problem

There are a good number of ways to stop the habit of thumb sucking. However, like all other childhood practices, you will have to proceed with patience and effective parenting. Firstly, wait and see whether your child can stop sucking his or her thumb without the use of any appliances. Gentle and positive encouragement is always recommended by pediatricians and the Dentists at North Burnaby Dental Group. Since some children maintain the habit of thumb sucking due to anxiety and insecurity, positive reinforcement can be of great help to discourage this habit passively. You should keep in mind that children normally suck their thumb when they are stressed. Therefore, always try to eliminate the stressors. Negative reinforcement incites more stress, and encourages your child to start sucking his or her thumb. Being disappointed at your children for continuing thumb sucking will put you in a vicious circle.

If your child is a little bit older, try to explain the adverse effect of thumb sucking and appreciate them every time for not sucking. In addition to that, try different ways to deal with the anxiety such as expressing feelings, self-talking, developing self-esteem and physical activity. If all of these solutions are not working there is also the option of taking discouraging measures such as bandaging your child’s thumb or covering the thumbs in bitter medication  

There are orthodontic appliances that can be used as a deterrent in cases where all passive methods have not worked.  

The Dentists at North Burnaby Dental Group encourage you to contact them if you have any questions about thumb sucking and the effects it can have on your child’s teeth. The Burnaby Dentists  are passionate and extremely familiar with working with children and parents to ensure a positive relationship and a lifetime of healthy teeth.

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