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Thumb Sucking & Its Impact On Your Child’s Oral Health

Thumb sucking is a natural reflex for babies and they feel comfort, relaxation and security when sucking their thumb. But while it’s ok and even natural for infants to suck their thumbs, once the child gets too old this habit can cause significant problems with their oral development.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry has found that many kids will stop thumb sucking by the age of four, but there are always a few stragglers who will hang on longer than that. If your child continues to suck their thumb past the age of five are at a high risk for developing oral health complications.

What Type Of Damage Can Thumb Sucking Cause?

Below are a few of the risks that go along with prolonged thumb sucking:

  • Palate – The palate, or the roof of the mouth, can become too arched and too narrow with prolonged thumb sucking. Young children’s mouths are quite pliable and repeated thumb sucking can cause the palate to mold to the shape of the thumb. This will later cause problems with the developing teeth.
  • Jaws – Over time, thumb sucking can guide your child’s pliable jaws out of their correct place. This can cause alignment problems for the jaws and teeth, which usually need orthodontic treatment to fix.
  • Teeth – Growing teeth can protrude if the thumb is constantly putting pressure on them. Not only will this cause an aesthetic issue, but it will also increase the need for orthodontic intervention in the future.

How To Help Your Child Stop Thumb Sucking

  • Use positive reinforcement and avoid punishments
  • Utilize a reward system, such as a sticker chart for hours or days that they go without thumb sucking
  • Place bandages on their thumbs at night to discourage nighttime thumb sucking

For more information on how thumb sucking can affect your child’s mouth, or for more tips on how to help them quit, please contact Firestone Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics! Our office is located in Firestone, Colorado!

Posted on Aug 25, 2016
Image Credit: © Dreamstime.com

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