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Thumb Sucking Long Term Effects

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The long-term effects of thumb-sucking

As parents we tend to have millions of concerns when it comes to our kids. Thumb sucking is a normal and soothing habit for babies and toddlers. While most children grow out of this habit during their toddler years, some other tend to still hold on to this habit quite longer. Parents sometimes wonder if will continue or when is the proper time to seek for help.There are different types of why babies and toddlers tend to suck their thumb: psychological and habitual. Psychological is when a child starts to sooth himself/herself, to feel safe and happy.

Thumb sucking can impact more if it persist over the age of 5-6 years old.

Long Effects on Teeth

  • overbite, where the front teeth protrude out from the jaw and mouth
  • other bite issues, such as the bottom teeth tipping inward toward the back of the mouth or an open bite, where the top and bottom teeth don’t meet when the mouth is closed
  • changes to the shape of the jaw, which can also affect the alignment of teeth and speech patterns, such as the development of a lisp. This is because continuous thumb-sucking can affect the development of your child’s jaw, leading to a problem that could even require surgery to fix.
  • sensitivity of the roof of the mouth
  • Germs from your thumb and surrounding areas affecting your body. Children who suck their thumbs well into and beyond their toddler years are at higher risk for infections due to continuing exposing the mouth to bacteria.

Ways to stop it

  • Don’t nag or punish your child for sucking their thumbs as it may create stress and a reason to suck their thumbs more.
  • Notice your child’s sucking triggers. If it happens randomly try to engage them in an activity where they can use their hands, such as drawing or play catch with a ball.
  • Use positive Reinforcement.
  • Try to praise them when they doing a good job on letting go.
  • Give gentle remindersAsk your Dentist for help.
  • Try a orthodontic device. It is a removable device helping disrupt the child from thumb-sucking.
  • Use some sort of thumb shield.
  • Keep them busy. If the child is busy they will forget to to suck their thumb

References:

  1. https://www.healthline.com/health/parenting/thumb-sucking-teeth
  2. https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/life-stages/infant-kids/thumb-sucking-the-good-the-bad-and-the-normal-0514

Written by Fotini Molnar

Dr. Fotini Molnar started her dental experience working as a dental assistant in a co-op program during high school. She went on to complete her Bachelor of Science, majoring in biotechnology at York University and then obtained her Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree from the University of Toronto. Prior to her career in dentistry, Dr. Molnar researched neuroblastoma at Sick Kids Hospital.
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