Thumb Sucking: Break the Unhealthy Dental Habit

Thumb Sucking

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Thumb Sucking

Have you noticed that your child sucks his or her thumb? Thumb sucking is pretty common in children and we find that many parents ask us at Eco Dental NY about it too. It is normal and children use it as a way to relax and make themselves feel more comfortable. When a child experiences negative emotions or they feel stressed, they often turn to thumb sucking to help alleviate those negative feelings. However, thumb sucking is not a healthy dental habit.
Unhealthy Dental Habit

When Should Thumb Sucking Stop?

Typically, most children grow out of sucking their thumbs around the age of two up until four as they find better ways to cope with the feelings that thumb sucking once alleviated for them. However, some children will suck their thumb for longer than this and as they get older, the habit is harder to break and may cause issues both developmentally and socially.

Children who are still sucking their thumbs upon entering kindergarten may find they are teased, which can lead to social problems. Developmentally, children who suck their thumbs past the age of four may experience dental issues with their jaw and teeth. Previously, it was thought that children could suck their thumb up until the permanent teeth came in without any lasting effects. However, it has been discovered that this poor dental habit can have effects much earlier than the arrival of the permanent teeth.

How Thumb Sucking Affects Your Child’s Jaw

Thumb sucking places pressure on the roof of your child’s mouth and the upper jaw. This pressure can then cause the mouth’s structure to become distorted as they bones are still developing and soft. The results can be an elongated or narrow upper jaw, which causes discomfort as your child’s permanent teeth start to grow in.

If your child continues this dental habit, it is important to speak with our pediatric dentists in Brooklyn. If caught early on, this habit can be stopped, and any issues corrected. To make an appointment, call Eco Dental NY.

Correcting the Problems That Thumb Sucking Causes

It may be recommended that your child have an orthodontic evaluation conducted to determine if treatment is needed. Our pediatric dentists in Brooklyn will also provide you with tips and techniques to help prevent any future thumb sucking. Once your child has reached age six or seven, they can have an orthodontic evaluation performed. This evaluation will look at your child’s growth and development to determine if the teeth, bite, and jaw are properly developing. If any problems are uncovered, there are treatments to help. The biggest thing that we look for is if there is enough space for the adult teeth to grow in, which will reduce the risk of tooth extractions later on in your child’s teen years.

One of the treatments that may be used to prevent thumb sucking is a palatal expander. This is an appliance that is placed on the upper jaw and it helps widen the upper jaw over time, leading to a beautiful healthy smile.

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