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Thumb Sucking Winter Park, FL

Thumb sucking is a common oral habit developed shortly after birth. It is often your baby’s way of calming themselves when feeling anxious or afraid and can also become a sleep aid. While thumb sucking can be a relief for parents of a cranky or colicky baby, if it persists or the child is sucking vigorously on the thumb or fingers it can have a detrimental impact on their oral health and development.

When bringing your baby in for their first visit to our Winter Park pediatric dental office, discuss any oral habits your child has with Dr. Miller so that our team can monitor the effect on their dental health and work with you as needed to help them stop.

How Can I Stop Thumbsucking?

Thumbsucking can be a difficult habit to break, especially if the child is continuing to suck their thumb past the age of two. Vigorous thumbsucking can cause changes in how the primary teeth erupt and may impact speech development. Dr. Miller offers oral appliances to halt thumb sucking when other means are unsuccessful. Parents can try to encourage their child to stop using a variety of at-home tips:

  • Place a sock over the hand they typically place in the mouth to remind them not to suck their thumb or fingers.
  • Find alternative ways to calm and relax them before going to sleep.
  • If stress is a trigger, talk with them about their fears or concerns and discuss other means of releasing stress.

Will Thumbsucking Affect My Child’s Smile?

Prolonged thumbsucking and thumb or finger sucking that is more vigorous can have lasting effects on the appearance and health of your child’s smile. Over time, thumbsucking will impact tooth, palate and soft tissue development. Children who suck their thumb also risk development problems with speech, social issues at school and even skin infections.

The most common dental problems that are the result of prolonged thumbsucking are open bite and overbite. Both will require orthodontic treatment to correct.

Do Pacifiers Cause Dental Problems?

Sucking on a pacifier past the age of two can also increase the chance of development concerns related to the structure of your child’s teeth and palate. Similar to thumbsucking, prolonged use often leads to the same type of problems and may require orthodontic treatment when the permanent teeth come in.