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The Troubles of Thumb Sucking

Thumb sucking is a habit that many children experience. It may come all on its own or as a substitute when the pacifier is taken away. But what can thumb sucking due to your children’s teeth? Dr. Allie Miller of Pediatric Dentistry of Winter Park, a dentist in Winter Park, FL, explains the issues thumb sucking can cause.winter park, fl dentist

Why Does My Child Suck Their Thumb?

Thumb sucking is something that your child does for comfort. It helps to calm them when they’re feeling anxious, nervous, or scared. Thumb sucking is also often done as it helps them to fall asleep easier. Babies have natural sucking reflexes and you may have even seen your baby sucking their thumb in ultrasound pictures.

How Does Thumb Sucking Impact Teeth?

Long-term thumb sucking becomes a problem if it’s still done after the age of two, as children are getting their teeth and their mouth is developing. Thumb sucking puts pressure on the roof of the mouth, as well as the teeth and jawbone. This habit can cause a variety of conditions that will impact your child in the future.

One of the most common effects is the development of an overbite. The front teeth are protruding because of the thumb putting pressure on the back of those teeth. Other bite issues can develop as well. These include an open bite, where the top and bottom teeth don’t meet when the jaw is closed. The bottom teeth may also start tilting inward at the back of the mouth.

Thumb sucking can actually change the shape of their jaw. This impacts the development of the rest of the mouth. It may change the alignment of the teeth and how the bite comes together. Speech patterns can develop, like a lisp or other speech impediments. Lastly, the roof of the mouth may face increased sensitivity due to thumb sucking.

How Can I Get My Child to Stop?

It can be hard to convince your child to stop sucking their thumb, especially when you know it comforts them. But it’s crucial for the future development of their mouth and jaw. Dr. Miller provides oral appliances to help children with their thumb-sucking habit if it comes to that. However, there are some tricks you can try at home, first.

Place a sock over the hand that they usually put in their mouth, or use a bad-tasting ointment or polish on that particular thumb. It should serve as a reminder for them to stop, especially when they go to do it subconsciously. Try reading stories or doing other activities that can help them relax before they fall asleep. If stress is an issue, talk it out with them and find other ways they can deal with their stress.

Pediatric Treatment at Your Winter Park, Florida Dentist

In addition to helping to stop your child’s thumb-sucking habit, Pediatric Dentistry of Winter Park can take care of all of your pediatric dentistry needs. Call us or schedule an appointment online.