Thumb Sucking

Pacifiers, binkies, lovies, blankets, teddy bears – all of these are comfort objects for babies and young children. Thumb sucking is also one of the most comforting aspects of nap time, bed time, and unfamiliar situations. Babies are adorable while sucking their thumbs, and it is reported that over three-quarters of infants suck their thumbs, so you may be a parent of a thumb-sucker. If you are, should you be worried? While thumb sucking is not a detriment to any child’s health or well-being, it is definitely something that parents should keep an eye on.

According to the American Dental Association, most children stop sucking their thumbs on their own between the ages of two and four. It is simply a habit that most children outgrow, and it is a habit that does not affect their oral structure. However, some children continue sucking their thumb well beyond their preschool years, and when their permanent teeth begin to erupt it can cause a mouthful of issues.

Pressure from the thumb that is applied on the mouth can cause the misalignment of the permanent teeth as they begin to erupt. Extended thumb sucking affects both the teeth and the shape of the face, leading to the need for orthodontic treatment.

Orthodontic treatment is used to straighten the teeth, correct the misalignment of the jaw, and improve the function of a child’s smile. Parents who are proactive about helping their children stop sucking their thumbs at an early age are often able to avoid extensive orthodontic treatment. There have been children who have sucked their thumbs as old as the age of nine or ten, and many of these children have had to wear braces for eight years in order to correct the oral issues created by thumb sucking.

HelloSmile is a pediatric dental practice that provides specific treatment and care to young, developing smiles. If your child is a thumb sucker, it is encouraged that you bring your child into our practice at a very early age. We can help you instill methods of intervention, and we can assess your child’s mouth to evaluate the need for orthodontic care.

Posted on behalf of Park Slope Pediatric Dental and Orthodontics Empowered by hellosmile

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