Does Thumb-Sucking Affect Your Child’s Teeth?

Babies are usually born with a sucking reflex as a way to comfort themselves in the new world. Furthermore, it is natural for a parent to worry about their child’s habits and their effects on their dental health. In such cases, it is good to address your concerns by doing your share of research into the topic and consulting your family dentist in Denver for the better. 

When does thumb-sucking affect your child’s teeth?

As a general rule of thumb, from the age of two to four, once children begin getting habituated to their environment, they let go of the habit of thumb-sucking. After this age, children develop permanent teeth when sucking on the thumb could cause issues.

Most importantly, only continuous vigorous thumb sucking could affect the growth and alignment of a child’s teeth. 

Effects of thumb-sucking on your Child’s Teeth

  1. Misaligned teeth

Extreme thumb sucking when a child’s permanent teeth are growing can lead to an improper eruption. This could cause gaps in teeth, crooked teeth, and even an abnormal tongue position. Eventually, it may also lead to ill effects on oral health, like gum diseases.

  1. Bite problems 

When a child sucks on a thumb steadily, the upper teeth might extend out more than the lower teeth, leading to an overbite condition. Similarly, it may also cause the lower teeth to tip in or cause a gap where the upper and lower teeth must meet. Such bite problems affect the structure of a child’s face.

  1. Obstruction of speech

The improper growth of the jaw, palate, and teeth, combined with the abnormal tongue positioning, could permanently change how a child eats and speaks. It could form a lisp in speech and might require extensive therapy to reverse this condition. 

Ways to stop your child from thumb-sucking

  • Identify the triggers for your child’s habit: Observe when your child goes for thumb-sucking. If it happens to be under stressful situations as a habit to soothe themself, try to understand its cause and address it. In an otherwise case, get to the root issue. 
  • Try speaking to your child positively if he/she is older and is struggling with societal pressure.
  • Use praises and rewards to get your child out of the habit gradually. Distract as needed, but try not to induce negative thoughts about the habit in the child’s mind.
  • Give reminders to your child. Be gentle during the process, and remember not to criticize your child for the habit.