Does Thumb Sucking Affect Children’s Teeth?

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Children usually develop the habit of sucking thumb when they are young. Not only that, its normal for children to suck on their thumbs, fingers, hands, pacifier or any other objects; as this gives them a feeling of security. It is associated with the action of feeding and gives the children the same physiological comfort as feeding.

This habit develops usually in infancy when the children are teething. And has been shown to continue until the age of 12-13 years, if not discontinued. Most children leave it themselves as they grow, but for some, it is a habit without which they sometimes cannot even function.

Will Thumb Sucking Affect My Child’s Teeth?

This question is asked by many parents. A professional will answer you YES. As children suck on a thumb or pacifier, the shape of their lips, the position of their muscles, and the underlying growing jaw bones they all tend to change their shape according to the stimulus of thumb sucking. The most affected out of all are the teeth.

The teeth, while they are growing, have the ability to change their position according to the stimulus they are receiving. When a child sucks their thumb, they create a hindrance for the teeth, altering the natural growth. Hence, the teeth take direction according to the thumb. This draws the teeth forward, meaning they grow out towards the lip. The upper and lower jaw bone is also modified. This causes problems in the skeleton of the child, and both things combined lead to a skeletal and dental problem as the child grows older. Not only that, thumb sucking can have a mental and psychological effect if it continues as the child gets older. Children suck their thumbs to feel secure and leaving this habit makes them feel insecure. This will create problems in their aesthetics and their ability to function normally.

Problems caused by thumb sucking can only be corrected with orthodontic treatment, which in common terms are known as braces. Orthodontic treatment becomes necessary as it is the only form of treatment to correct non-alignment of teeth.

How Can I Help My Child Stop Thumb Sucking?

Praise your child for not sucking a thumb or any other object.

The reason why children usually suck their thumbs is because they feel insecure or need comfort. Focus on removing the cause of the anxiety and offer comfort to your child.

For an adult child, involve them choose the method of stopping.

Your dentist can offer reassurance to the child and clarify what could happen to their teeth if they do not stop sucking.

If the above-mentioned tips don’t work, remind the child of their habit by putting a sock on the hand at night or bandaging the thumb. Your dentist or pediatrician may recommend a better medication to coat the thumb or the use of a mouth appliance.

It is absolutely necessary that you, as a parent, try to change this habit as early as possible. If it continues, seek professional help and don’t just rely on home remedies.

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