How Thumb Sucking Affects Kids Dental Health?


Thumb sucking is a normal habit that we see in many infants. When babies suck on a thumb or pacifier they derive a sense of comfort and pleasure out of it. In some babies this habit is formed even before birth that is why parents find it hard to break the habit. Apparently there is nothing wrong with it but when the habit continues to persist beyond 3-4 years of age then it is likely children may develop complications related to dental health. Kids that suck more aggressively than others are more likely to face problems.
Here are some risks for kids who continue thumb sucking till their pre-schooling starts.

Roof Narrowing: Prolonged thumb sucking puts pressure on the upper jaw which leads to narrowing of the roof of the mouth, this results in problems resulted to teeth development.

Teeth Slanting: Thumb and pacifier sucking cause teeth to slant resulting in poor aesthetic and children facing these issues need orthodontic treatments.

Misaligned Jaw Development: Shape and size of a pacifier that children suck on is not natural for the mouth to hold on and as a result jaws develop out of correct alignment.

Sore Mouth: Aggressive thumb sucking by some toddlers is likely to develop mouth sores or ulcers.

Tooth Decay: Some parents dip pacifiers in honey or some sugary liquids in order to sweeten them, this way sugar damages the tooth enamel which results in tooth decay.

What Parents Need to Do

When children do thumb sucking, they don’t know what they are doing. They are simply deriving pleasure out of it so punishment and nagging is not the best approach.
To prevent children from this habit parents at times put bandage or apply some nasty-tasting stuff on their thumb, this is not the solution. Such measures rather intensify the habit, family psychologists and podiatrists warn us. Parents need to give time to children as many give up the habit when they reach school.

Strategies to prevent thumb sucking

Instead of taking coercive measures parents should find simple but creative ways to help their young ones to get rid of this habit. For example:

  • Do not criticize children rather appreciate them when they are not sucking
  • Parents can help children limit the habit of thumb sucking by telling them it is not good to put their thumb in mouth at public places
  • Talk to children that as they grow up they will not be sucking nay more
  • At times pacifiers are good to suck on since parents can easily take them away
  • Give little rewards like take them on outing or buy a gift when they are not busy thumb sucking. Maintaining a chart of reward system greatly helps parents to learn about their child’s quitting attempts.
  • Visit a pediatric dentist to learn about the negative effects of thumb or finger sucking and how children should be helped to avoid it.

If you need some more information on how thumb sucking affects your kids’ dental health then consult Dr. Lisi at Kids Pediatric Dentistry in Allen, will answer all your questions and concerns. Please call 972-727-0011 to schedule a consultation.

 

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