Teeth and Thumb Sucking In Young Children


Teeth and Thumb Sucking In Young Children

Children around the globe all do it. Thumb sucking.  It’s a natural habit progression for an inquisitive infant who puts everything they can find in their mouth, and who has been taught to be soothed by a pacifier.  The thumb sucking stage can very easily become a stubborn habit in a very short period of time.  Though thumb sucking is not as much of a dental issue when a very young child has their first set of teeth, it can very quickly become problematic after a toddler’s second set of teeth emerges.

The problem with thumb sucking

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, thumb sucking is one of the most prominent sources of dental issues for young children.  Studies have shown that with the consistent presence of a child’s thumb in a young mouth, undue pressure can be applied to the child’s upper jaw and inner soft tissues, causing the entire frame of the mouth to narrow, resulting in alignment issues between the top and bottom row of teeth.  Thumb sucking is also said to be responsible for protruding top front teeth and inwardly sloping bottom teeth.  In addition to the dental complications that arise from this, other speech oriented problems like a lisp can arise.  In more extreme cases, a child’s thumb sucking can even hinder normal tooth growth and cause a permanent tooth’s growth to slow to a stop before it completely emerges.

How to help your young child

The best first step in curtailing the thumb sucking habit is to try to find out from the child themselves the specific reason that they feel they need to suck their thumbs.  Remarkably, many such cases can be assisted and resolved with a series of simple guidance conversations, as well as adult praise when the child does not suck their thumbs (instead of censure when a child does suck their thumbs).  That said, despite attentive encouragement, pleas, and best laid plans, there are some children who find it very difficult to wean themselves from the thumb sucking habit. Even in such circumstances, there are case by case solutions that our dentist’s office can recommend.  Options include everything from bandaging the thumb, to dentist installed tongue shield appliances that are designed to motivate your child to stop on their own.

If you have need assistance for a young child who is a chronic thumb sucker we can help.  Contact our offices for a consultation, and we can help you formulate a winning plan for your young one’s continued dental health.

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