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YOUR CHILDS DENTAL HEALTH: Thumb Sucking

February 13, 2017

 

Why kids suck their thumbs-

Thumbsucking is a common habit during childhood, and is normal in babies and young children. Many infants suck their thumbs or fingers during the first year of life, and 30 percent of kids continue during the preschool years. Thumbsucking is comforting for children, and they usually do it when they are:

                      * Bored

                      * Tired

                      * Worried

                      * Feeling stressed

Most kids outgrow the habit by the age of 5. Often, peer pressure in school motivates kids to stop sucking their thumbs. Thumbsucking is not harmful unless a child is still doing it at the time their permanent teeth are ready to come in, usually between the ages of 4 and 5. 

 

Effects of Thumbsucking-

Because the jawbones in children under 8 are still soft and pliable, thumbsucking can reshape the jawbone and cause the teeth to grow out of alignment. The upper front teeth will flare out and tip upward, and the lower front teeth will move inward. This condition is called open bite, because there is a space between the upper and lower front teeth when the back teeth bite together. 

Long-term thumbsucking may also affect the growth of the child's palate, which can lead to poor tongue placement and problems with chewing, swallowing and speaking. 

 

Breaking the Habit

It's important to stop the thumbsucking habit before permanent teeth begin to come in. Kids who are unable to stop on their own by age 5 may need help. there are several things you can do to help your child:

                      * Don't pressure your child to stop thumbsucking, you may just reinforce the habit

                      * Talk to your child about possible reasons for thumbsucking and ways you can work together to stop the habit

                      * Praise your child when they do not suck their thumb, instead of scolding them when they do

                      * Set up an incentive system to reward progress

                      * Ask your dentist to encourage your child to stop thumbsucking

 

How Your Dentist or Orthodontist Can Help

If your child still needs help, your dentist or orthodontist can place an oral appliance in your child's mouth that prevents thumbsucking. this device can help stop thumbsucking within a few days. 

 

Rosewood Dental, PLC

 

Rosewood Dental, PLC, Dentistry  Cosmetic, Kalamazoo, MI