Thumb sucking is most common in children. Not all thumb-sucking results in damage to teeth/mouth. Thumb sucking exposes children to dirt, bacteria, and viruses. Persistent thumb sucking can sometimes cause misalignment of your child’s permanent teeth and affect the jaw.
As dentists, we are often asked, “should I be concerned about my child’s thumb sucking habit?” so we decided to answer this question for you.
What is thumb sucking habit?
Babies have natural sucking reflexes, that can cause them to place their thumbs or fingers into their mouths — sometimes even before birth.
Because thumb sucking makes babies feel secure, some babies may eventually develop a habit of thumb sucking when they are in want of soothing or going to sleep.
How does this habit develop?
As children grow, they begin experimenting with the basic functions of the mouth, like sucking, speaking, etc. This eventually develops into a thumb/digit-sucking habit.
For most children, this lasts for a few years only. If the habit doesn’t resolve within a few years, it then leads to dental problems as the child grows.
These habits are self-soothing and your child begins to develop them when he/she is upset, confused or frustrated. If your child has a regular habit of thumb/pacifier sucking,
it is better to wean the habit as early as possible.
What happens if the habit is left unattended?
1. Open Bite
The most serious permanent side effect of thumb sucking habit is dental malocclusion or misalignment that is visible when the mouth is closed.
Open bite occurs when the top and bottom front teeth become directed outward.
This means that there is a gap between the upper and lower front teeth, even when the mouth is closed completely.
An open bite may require orthodontic correction in the future or might complicate alternative dental misalignment that necessitate orthodontic treatment.
In this misalignment, the upper front teeth become very forwardly placed. Overbite malocclusion can affect the shape of the face and smile.
Individuals with extreme overbites may need extensive orthodontic treatment to correct the issue.
3. Skin Problems
Children who suck their thumbs over the years could experience uncomfortable or serious skin problems on their most preferred thumb.
When exposed to the moisture of the mouth, the skin can become vulnerable to other injuries. In some cases, the skin could crack or bleed, making your child’s hands unsafe to infection.
The thumb may begin to look calloused.
4. Speech Impediment
Because thumb sucking affects the development of the teeth, jaw, and palate, the habit can also change how your child eats and speaks.
Thumb sucking might cause lisping and other speech impediments, including an inability to pronounce hard consonant appears like “D” and “T.”
5. Social Issues
Even before your child’s thumb-sucking becomes a true and present threat to your child’s dental development, the habit may cause social problems.
Children who suck their thumbs in public may become the target of contempt. While thumb sucking is a normal childhood habit, the older your kid gets,
the more other people may judge him/her for continuing the habit.
What can you do to help your child?
It is better to start the process of weaning the habit early on before it causes permanent damage. This is how you can help
• Try to use positive rewards for good behaviour instead of negativity or intimidating behaviour.
• Talk openly with your child about the inherent dangers of a thumb-sucking habit.
• Help your child notice other productive things to do with the hands as a method of distraction. Playing a game, for example, might be a great diversion.
• Support and encourage your child while he or she is attempting to interrupt the habit.
As children develop, they need several things to learn and to think about. By understanding a few simple facts regarding thumb sucking,
you can facilitate your child to develop in a healthy and positive approach.
Worried about your child’s thumb-sucking??
The best way to resolve this problem is by contacting a good dental clinic and to seek information from patients and ask them about the employees and quality of services.