June 15, 2021

Is Thumb-Sucking Bad for My Child’s Future Smile?

Filed under: Uncategorized — drgaur @ 4:47 pm
a little girl sucking her thumb before seeing a pediatric dentist in Huntington

Does your child suck their thumb? Do you worry they’ll be the only kid entering kindergarten who is still practicing this habit? While most children grow out of it around the age of 2 or 3, those who continue to engage in thumb-sucking can be at risk for possible oral health problems, one of which is a poorly aligned bite. A pediatric dentist in Huntington is here to explain the potential issues your child may face if they continue to suck their thumb as they get older.  

Thumb-Sucking and Its Potential Dangers

For babies and younger toddlers, thumb-sucking may be a comfort technique used when they feel scared or unsure about a situation. While this is completely normal, it is certainly a habit that you’ll want to break in the coming years. Why? Because whether it is a thumb, finger, or pacifier, the sucking motion a child practices can have a negative impact on their dental health. Here’s how:

  • Bite Alignment: Known as malocclusion, your child may experience a problem with a misaligned bite. While an underbite or crossbite is possible, overbites and open bites tend to be the most prominent. Should your child develop a problem with their teeth or jaw as a result of their thumb-sucking, it may be more difficult for them to eat, speak, and feel confident in their appearance. It may also be necessary for them to undergo orthodontic treatment later on.
  • Facial Development: The continued practice of thumb-sucking can cause the jaw and facial structure to change over time, resulting in a dramatic shift in their teeth because of the pulling motion of the thumb and pressure from the sucking. Their teeth and jaw may not work together properly, and their facial features may appear asymmetrical.  
  • Speech Impediment: If your child has an open bite or overbite, you may notice they are unable to form certain words and syllables, which will ultimately affect their speech. A lisp can develop that makes it harder to create various sounds and potentially lead to feelings of inadequacy, especially if they are school age.

Ways to Encourage Your Child to Stop the Habit

If you want to help your child kick this habit before it becomes a real problem, there are different techniques you can use, such as:

  • Offering praise when they do not suck their thumb for a certain period of time
  • Giving your child a different toy or stuffed animal that can be used to comfort them when they experience uncertainty, fear, or anxiety
  • Helping your little one be more aware of their thumb-sucking habit, as many often do not realize they’re doing it because of its “normalcy”

Helping your child break this non-nutritive habit may not be an easy task but by talking to your child’s pediatric dentist in Dix Hills, you can establish a starting point that will lead to improved oral health as they grow and develop.

About the Author
Dr. Rajanesh Gaur is a trusted dentist who enjoys caring for patients of all ages. When little ones come in for regular checkups and cleanings, he and his team deliver compassionate, caring, and kid-friendly care. He even works with parents who are concerned that their children’s non-nutritive habits might result in worsening oral health conditions as they grow older. Whether it is a pacifier or thumb-sucking that is of concern, you are welcome to contact us at (631) 673-8040 to learn which tips and techniques work best to curb these particular practices.

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