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How Thumb Sucking Can Be Detrimental to Your Child’s Oral Health

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Early childhood habits can be essential to your child’s long-run dental health. When children are young, their bones are still developing; jaws included! Harmful short-term habits can have significant long-term effects. In order to effectively challenge these habits, it’s beneficial to understand the effects and reasoning behind the behavior. This is how thumb sucking can be detrimental to your child’s oral health.

Why Do Children Suck Their Thumbs?

Naturally, children under the age of six months have the urge to suck their thumbs. It’s why pacifiers are so popular! Babies tend to outgrow their need to suck their thumbs after six months or so. Some children do continue to suck their thumbs long after for soothing and comforting purposes. This may seem harmless at the moment, but there are a number of reasons you should look for alternative soothing methods.

What Impact Thumb Sucking has on Your Child’s Mouth

Permanent palate damage

When your child sucks their thumb, there is a level of consistent suction. Over a prolonged period of time, that suction reshapes the mouth into unnatural positions. These unnatural positions typically will not be able to correct on their own and will likely need orthodontic treatment. Because of this miss-shaping, your child’s adult teeth may grow at undesirable angles.

Bite issues

Thumb sucking often interrupts your child’s natural bite and produces misaligned bite angles. Instead of the teeth meeting at the front of the mouth, they will remain open. If this is the case, your child will likely require braces or other orthodontic dental work to shift the teeth back into the correct position.

Problems eating

Because of a misshapen bite caused by thumb sucking, a child may have problems chewing their food properly, which could lead to choking, picky eating, and dietary issues.

Speech problems

Deformed palates and misaligned bites interfere with normal speech. Your child may have problems with pronunciation and effectively communicating, as a result.

How To Get Your Child To Stop Sucking Their Thumb

If your child sucks their thumb, it’s best to try and break the habit as soon as possible. There are many ways to help your child change their thumb-sucking habit.

Praise them when they complete activities without sucking their thumb

This uses positive reinforcement to challenge poor behaviors and is a healthy way to teach them to avoid thumb sucking.

Be aware of environmental triggers

Do you notice your child partakes in the action when they are stressed? Hungry? Angry? By addressing what is making them feel this way, you can teach emotional management and relieve the need for thumb sucking as a comfort tool.

Avoid criticizing

When you use harsh words or scold your child for sucking their thumb, you may stop the behavior for the moment but, in fact, may not be not eliminating any underlying causes.

For a dentist’s help with your child’s thumb sucking, Contact Brookside Family Dental and schedule an appointment today! Our team of dentists is patient-focused when it comes to the entire family. With over 200 5-star reviews, you can be sure you are in great care!

 

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