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Thumb Sucking Habit And How It Affects Your Teeth!

thumb sucking habit

Feb 2nd

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Small harmless habits that we pick up as children can often go unnoticed or feel adorable but that’s until they begin to show major effects on your health or appearance. Such is the case when it comes to thumb-sucking. We’ve all seen kids sucking their thumbs and found it so cute! And while it is, prolonged thumb sucking can often lead to a negative impact on the child’s oral health.

As responsible and caring parents, we need to understand these effects and the ways to address them. In this article, let’s take you through thumb-sucking habits in children, its effects on health, why children do it in the first place and thumb-sucking treatments!

Effects of Thumb Sucking on Oral Health

Thumb sucking, a seemingly common and innocent habit, can lead to several serious dental issues. One of the most noticeable effects of thumb sucking on teeth is the development of malocclusions or misaligned teeth. Yes, you read that right! When a child frequently sucks their thumb, they create a constant pressure against their teeth that can cause a shift in teeth alignment, leading to conditions such as 'open bite', where the upper and lower teeth don't meet when the mouth is closed. Eventually, this will lead you to seek help from orthodontics professionals for interventions.

Another significant impact of the thumb-sucking habit is the alteration of the roof of the mouth. The habit can cause the palate to become more narrow and high-arched, affecting the way a child speaks and eats. These oral changes not only affect the physical appearance but can also lead to long-term dental problems!

How to Prevent Thumb Sucking Habit in Your Child

If you have noticed your young child's thumb sucking quite often, worry not. There are ways to stop them. Try following these tips:

  • Explain to your child that thumb-sucking is not good. Deploy positive reinforcement and praise your child when they do not suck their thumb.
  • Thumb sucking is a habit that occurs due to a trigger. It’s your job to identify the trigger, understand what causes it and make changes accordingly.
  • Instead of constant reminders with harsh or strict words, resort to gentle reminders.
  • Consult a paediatric dentist or therapist for guidance. You can take their help to create a plan and work with your child to stop this habit.
  • You can also consider using thumb guards as a physical reminder for the child.

Why Do Kids Usually Suck Their Thumb?

The thumb-sucking habit often points to a child’s need for comfort and security. For many, it starts as a soothing mechanism during times of duress, anxiety or tiredness. Thumb-sucking is a natural tendency and can even start in the womb! To stop this habit, however, it is crucial to understand the cause of this habit and address it directly. You can look to replace the comfort your child gets from thumbsucking with a healthy alternative which is just as comforting!

When to Consult a Paediatrician for This Issue?

Of course, it’s impossible to understand when the situation has worsened and when you should visit a professional. It's advisable to consult a paediatrician or a paediatric dentist for thumb-sucking therapy if the habit goes on after the age of 4-5, or if you notice a change in the teeth alignment or the structure of your child’s jaw. Additionally, you should also visit a professional if your child complains of pain or discomfort due to thumb sucking or if you notice an infection on or around the thumb.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, it’s not just about stopping a harmful habit, it’s about understanding the underlying causes and triggers of thumb sucking in your child and correcting or resolving them. This effort can help them not only stop a harmful habit but also prevent their smile or jaw from changing as well. As a parent, you must ensure to be kind, proactive and patient while dealing with this habit and meet a professional any time you face a difficulty or notice the need for a thumb-sucking treatment.

You can also rest assured that if your child has, in the past, resorted to thumb sucking and altered their teeth alignment, then that’s not the end of the world either! With modern and effective smile correcting solutions like the makeO toothsi aligners, your child can have their perfect smile back within a few months! To know more about our excellent aligners and other makeo toothsi oral care products, head to our website now!

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