Can Thumb-Sucking Ruin Your Child’s Teeth?

Thumb-sucking is a common behavior found in humans. Around 60-80% of children thumb-suck during infancy because it makes them feel secure in the new world. But sometimes, it can form a habit in young children helping them to fall asleep, soothe themselves, or entertain them when they are bored. Sucking the thumb at a young age is not harmful, but for older children, it can be damageable to their dental health. If you are concerned about your child’s thumb-sucking habit, you should contact a periodontist in Dieppe, New Brunswick

Can thumb-sucking ruin your child’s teeth?

Children generally start losing their teeth at the age of 5 or 6. At that stage, thumb-sucking can cause serious damage. It can push the teeth out of alignment, forming an overbite. It generally goes away if the child stops sucking their thumb. However,  if the habit does not go away, the child might need assistance from a doctor later. If the habit is severe, it can change the shape of the jaw, causing the child to need surgery if not rectified. 

The palate growth of the mouth roof can also be affected by thumb-sucking. It can lead to other problems, including difficulty swallowing, collapsing of the tonsil leading to snoring, and skeletal deformities. It can also cause speech impediments due to palate growth and teeth misalignment.

How to stop this habit?

Thumb-sucking damage generally occurs after the permanent teeth have grown, so it is important to stop the habit before that. Set a reward system with your child and award them for not sucking their thumb. 

  • There are also other alternatives, like placing a band-aid over the thumb, and some experts say some specific nail polishes deter thumb sucking. 
  • Try to identify the underlying cause of the issue. Your child may suck their thumb for entertainment purposes, while others do it because they are bored. Knowing the cause helps to develop a more effective plan to eliminate the habit.
  • You can make thumb-sucking unpleasant by putting a bitter substance on your child’s thumb to discourage the habit.
  • You can consider speaking to a pediatrician or a child psychologist if you cannot stop thumb-sucking your child.
  • Talk to your child about the negative effects of thumb-sucking. Explain why thumb sucking can cause dental problems and other health issues. A proper conversation can help your child know why stopping thumb sucking is important to protect their teeth.

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