Sucking on a thumb or pacifier reduces the anxiety in your kids and relaxes them. It also helps them to fall asleep on their own. Thus the habit of sucking thumb or pacifier sometimes stays with your kids beyond infancy. The problem starts here. There are numerous drawbacks of thumbsucking, including numerous dental health issues.
The physical force of their fingers or pacifier adversely affects their malleable oral tissues leading to dental problems like bite issues and gaps between teeth. The following dental issues can arise in kids because of sucking thumb or pacifier for a longer time:-
The pressure of the thumb or pacifier sucking results in splaying. In this condition, some of your kid’s upper or lower teeth might slop outward. You might not notice this change early on. But the tooth misalignment will become evident once your kids grow permanent teeth.
Malocclusion; Bite Issues
Prolonged thumb sucking leads to malocclusions like open bite, overbite, and gapped teeth. In an open bite, the upper and bottom teeth don’t come in contact with each other. In an overbite, the front teeth overlap the bottom ones. All these issues make biting and chewing challenging for kids. The gap between the teeth poses cosmetic problems when your kid grows up.
Unnatural Facial Development
The child’s jaw takes shape from infancy to adolescence. In this period, if the thumb or pacifier is constantly stuck between the teeth, the jaw doesn’t take the proper position. This may lead to abnormal jaw and facial structure development or orofacial mycological disorder in a worst-case scenario. This disorder will need extensive treatment.
Flawed Speech Development
The tongue tends to push forward because of prolonged thumb sucking in kids. This leads to poor tongue control. In this condition, kids can’t correctly pronounce words with S, L, R, and Z. And they also miss their formative speaking practice. Reason being that they have their thumb or pacifier in their mouth most of the time.
When your kids are biting their thumb constantly, it is natural for the skin to become vulnerable to injuries. Sometimes, their thumb might crack or bleed, leading to a skin infection. The constant moisture due to thumb sucking can also wrap the thumbnail. This causes ingrowth and peeling of the thumbnail.
How to Break the Habit of Thumb Sucking in Kids
You can use the following proven tips to stop your kids from sucking thumb or pacifier. Since you understand your kid’s unique personality better, you can invent your own effective ways also.
- The kids can’t leave the habit of thumb-sucking instantly. But you can make them leave it gradually by limiting their time for sucking of thumb or pacifier.
- Offer a clean and soft blanket or toy as a substitute when your child is adamant on sucking thumb or pacifier.
- Gently point out your kid’s bad habits, including thumb-sucking. Most of the time, they are not even aware of their own activities.
- Praise and encouragement motivate children. Let your kids know that they are doing an excellent job by trying to leave the habit of thumb-sucking.
Get more tips on how to stop thumbsucking here.
Role of Your Dentist and Orthodontist
Regular check-ups with your dentist can help detect dental issues like overbite, underbite, and gapped teeth in the early stage. They can sometimes take X-rays also. The treatment can start as soon as your kid reaches the appropriate age. The dentist may recommend your kids to an orthodontist if they need orthodontic treatments. There are various options like Invisalign, metal braces, ceramic brace, etc.
These treatments can correct all types of malocclusions. The orthodontist can prescribe a suitable option for your child. But any treatment which starts early will be less complicated and less costly.
It is wise to invest time and effort in breaking the habit of thumb sucking in your kids. But don’t worry if, despite your efforts, any dental issue arises in your kids due to thumb-sucking habits. Orthodontists are well-equipped to treat all kinds of teeth and jaw misalignments.
About the Author
Emily Taylor found the perfect fit for herself as the Online Marketing Manager at Thurman Orthodontics in Fresno CA as she believes that a great smile does more than just make a person look great – it makes them feel great as well. The power of a smile has always been a mystery to Emily, and she loves researching and writing about it. She loves to write about everything to do with a healthy bite and a beautiful smile – weather is it ways to achieve it or the importance of it in the various aspects of life. What brings a big smile on Emily’s face is her family and surfing. She also likes to bake, and her children and co-workers call her the cookie fairy!