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Can Thumb Sucking Cause Dental Problems

Thumb sucking is common and normal in young children. In fact, many babies begin to suck their fingers while still in the womb. This is a normal and healthy part of a child’s development, but it can have detrimental effects on their oral health.

As children grow and continue to suck their thumbs, it can cause changes to the shapes and locations when their permanent teeth erupt.

Children usually suck their thumbs as a way of self-soothing and it helps infants fall asleep. Most children grow out of the habit of sucking their thumbs or fingers around 2-4 years of age.

Does Thumb Sucking Cause Orthodontic Problems?

Yes, in some children, finger and thumb sucking past the age of five can cause problems such as:

Bacterial Infections

Sucking the thumb (whether clean or not) increases the risk of germs or bacteria entering your child's body, perhaps leading to infection.

Jaw Shape

When children suck their thumbs, the tongue's posture is lowered, putting even greater strain on the jaw. This increased pressure can cause major alterations to the upper jaw, raising and narrowing the roof of the mouth.

When the jaw is repeatedly subjected to intense pressure, the shape of the jaw is more prone to change, resulting in underdevelopment.

Speech

Thumb sucking in children can cause an overbite or bucked teeth, this can affect a child’s speech.  When a child sucks their thumb, the tongue moves forward and backward.

This can cause a lisp, which might last until adulthood if parents don’t take their child for speech therapy and orthodontic correction.

Teeth Alignment


Changes in the front teeth are the most visible indicator that a child sucks their thumb.

The constant pressure from your child’s hand in their mouth can cause their lower front teeth to protrude, while the upper front teeth can thrust forward as a result of a sucked thumb or finger.

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How to help my child to stop thumb sucking

If your child is struggling to give up the thumb-sucking habit, then your dentist can help.

Use positive reinforcement: Explain to your child about the importance of not sucking their thumbs and come up with a way to reward them for not doing so — When you see a thumb in your child's mouth, always offer gentle reminders rather than scolding, and congratulate her when she stops.

Get Help: If you’ve tried everything it may be time to bring out the big guns and have an orthodontist assist in breaking your child’s habit.


Can Braces Fix Issues caused by Thumb Sucking?

Yes, your child’s orthodontist can recommend braces to correct several types of jaw issues and misalignments. Braces can do the following:

  • Correct minimal jaw or palate adjustments
  • Move crooked teeth back together
  • Reverse a bite malocclusion (underbite, overbite, frontal misalignment)

Do you want to detect any potential problems as your child’s teeth come in? Bring your child in for a consultation at PretoriaSmile Orthodontics!

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