Thumbsucking is a very natural reflex for children. It may be a feeling of security children have when they suck on their thumbs, fingers, or pacifiers. It may also be a way to soothe themselves and help them fall asleep. This feeling of security is important for children to have in order to spend more time learning about the world around them.
That being said, if the thumbsucking continues after their permanent teeth come in it may cause problems when it comes to your child’s teeth growing in properly. Thumbsucking may impact the alignment of their teeth and possible changes in the roof of their mouth. Pacifiers will have the same effect as thumbsucking too; although, it is often an easier habit to break.
The biggest factor is the intensity of thumbsucking. Aggressive thumbsuckers may develop issues with their first set of teeth. It is not as problematic when a child just rests their thumb and passively sucks on it, but it is still important to find ways to stop this habit from continuing.
Does Thumb Sucking Harm A Child’s Teeth?
If an infant sucks their thumb, it may not result in any dental problems. Normally, children tend to stop sucking their thumbs as their teeth begin to come in. However, in some cases, thumb sucking is done as a response to the child developing other coping mechanisms due to language or mobility. However, as a child ages and thumbsucking occurs, it begins to become a concern because it can affect their permanent teeth alignment and their bite. Some studies show that even in children as young as two years, thumb sucking can have negative effects on the jaw.
One major concern that parents should have about thumbsucking is its ability to lead to an open bite where the front teeth do not erupt fully and may be pushed forward. Because the teeth are pushed out of position, they may begin to come in crooked. This becomes a greater concern if the thumbsucking continues as permanent teeth begin to come in, which usually happens around age five. Thumbsucking into adolescence may result in braces or other dental work that is otherwise preventable if thumb-sucking is stopped before it leads to lifelong consequences.
Additional problems that may result following persistent thumb-sucking include:
- Pronunciation problems following language development
- Misaligned jaw
- Malformed roof of the mouth
Do Children Stop Sucking Their Thumbs On Their Own?
Children will usually stop thumbsucking between the ages of two and four years old. There are so many factors in a child’s life that there is no current way to determine if a child will continue to suck their thumbs.
If you notice problems with your child’s teeth, please consult Eagle Rock Dental Office in Idaho Falls. It is important to have your child’s teeth examined by your family dentist as they progress from their first set of teeth to their permanent teeth.
What Can I Do To Help My Child Stop Thumbsucking?
When you begin to feel like your child is getting too old for thumbsucking there are a few things you can do to help them break the habit:
- Find ways to praise your children for not sucking their thumbs.
- Children may be sucking their thumbs when they have feelings of insecurity and need that feeling of comfort. This anxiety can be lessened by providing them comfort in other ways. Comfort them and then praise them for not thumbsucking.
- If you child is older, it may be beneficial to give them the choice of how to stop after explaining the importance of stopping.
- At Eagle Rock Dental Care in Idaho Falls we offer encouragement to your children and help them to understand the importance of stopping their thumbsucking habit.
If these tips don’t seem to be doing the trick, we have a few others that parents have asked us about and used that helped them to get their child to stop. Some of these effective ways include putting a bandage on your child’s thumb or a sock over their hand at night. Methods like these help to remind your child that thumbsucking is a bad habit.
We would love to help you and your children understand the benefits of stopping their habit while keeping their teeth healthy. Call us during our office hours, or use our online appointment form to schedule the time you would like to come in. We look forward to meeting you and your family.