Infants and young children often have a natural inclination towards sucking on their thumbs because it can help them feel composed and may also induce sleep. While it may not be much of a concern for infants, as soon as your child’s teeth begin to appear, it can have an adverse effect.
According to dentists, prolonged thumbsucking affects your child’s teeth and oral development. Read more to learn about the adverse effects of thumbsucking on your child’s oral health.
Does ThumbSucking Affect My Child’s Teeth?
Thumbsucking that continues beyond the emergence of the permanent teeth can result in improper development of the mouth and incorrect tooth alignment. The biggest fear it carries is the future need for orthodontic work if your child’s teeth are not appropriately adjusted when they are older.
Here are a few ways how thumbsucking affects your child’s teeth and oral development:
1. Misalignment Between Teeth
When your child’s mouth is held half-open for a prolonged period due to thumbsucking activity, the tendons can be exhausted and also lead to pulling of the jaw joint out of its position. Unluckily, if the jaw joint gets misaligned at this age, it may merge that way leading to a permanent underbite or overbite.
2. Slanted Teeth
Just as you apply braces to rectify your teeth alignment over time, thumbsucking can produce a similar effect which can consequently cause your teeth to lean outwards. It can severely impact the dental structure and aesthetics of your child’s teeth at this tender age and lead to long-term problems.
3. Speech Problems
Thumbsucking can also appear as the primary reason for causing a modification in the roof of the mouth. As it develops, the roof of the mouth begins responding to specific pressures. Your child’s thumbsucking produces pressure against the roof and induces the roof to form a narrow groove. It may be one of the reasons for speech impediments.
4. Mouth Sores
Aggressive thumbsucking may impact the mouth walls enough to produce sores and bacterial infection. Though aggressive thumbsucking is a more severe issue than passive sucking, both of them can be regarded as unhealthy.
When and How Do I Put an End to My Child’s Thumb Sucking Habit?
Mostly speaking, if a child is continuing to suck on their thumb beyond the age of 4 or 5, it’s time to intervene to avert dental complications. Taking a soft approach will be helpful to rid your child of their thumbsucking habit. You may achieve success by merely talking with your child and fondly encouraging them to stop their thumbsucking habit. If that doesn’t work, you can try these tactics:
- Encourage and praise your child whenever they refrain from thumbsucking.
- Offer a reward system to provide your younger one with an incentive to stop.
- Help your child to avert anxiety and provide them a sense of security.
- Apply some bitter-tasting medication to your child’s thumb to discourage the habit.
- Use oral appliances that can be worn by your child at night to prevent them from thumbsucking.
You wouldn’t want the process of ending your child’s thumbsucking habit to be a painful one for them. However, it is crucial that they stop before it results in teeth damage. Your dentist can help you, as required, to motivate your child to stop thumbsucking and explain what could be the outcome if they continue.
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