Does “thumb sucking” negatively affect the outcome of your child’s teeth?

best dentists in CarrolltonIt may seem that thumb sucking is a normal, harmless habit of childhood, but the behavior may actually have serious consequences for your child’s teeth in the future. Your dentist has likely seen many patients who have manifested the poor outcomes of ongoing thumb sucking.

It’s important to understand that your child likely gets some psychological benefit from thumb sucking. Indeed, the act can be soothing, especially for babies and toddlers. Some believe that thumb sucking before the permanent teeth erupt is not of great concern, but recent research has suggested that thumb sucking can have negative effects in children as young as two years old.

The best dentists in Carrollton note that ongoing thumb sucking can interfere with the proper alignment of the teeth or create a malocclusion. The pressure exerted on the mouth by thumb sucking can result in a narrow arch, which in turn is likely to lead to crowding of the permanent teeth.

If the habit does continue when the permanent teeth come in, problems are likely to be even more severe. Over time, the habit can create an imbalance in chewing technique, potentially compromising nutrition.

Putting a stop to your child’s thumb sucking will also have social benefits. When it’s time for children to go to school, they may be teased by their classmates for keeping up the infantile behavior. Thumb sucking may also factor into a speech impairment, which also can make a school-aged child a target of taunts from their peers.

You can help your child stop thumb sucking by establishing a reward system designed to eliminate the behavior. Be encouraging and kind, as scolding the child about thumb sucking is unlikely to be effective. If your child is experiencing stress, helping the child develop alternative coping strategies will also be beneficial.

If you have concerns about your child’s persistent thumb sucking, ask your dentist for tips on how to get your little one to break the habit.