Is Thumb Sucking Harming Your Child’s Oral Health?

By July 13, 2019 July 23rd, 2019 Pediatric Dentistry

Is Thumb Sucking Harming Your Child’s Oral Health?Many young children suck their thumbs. Often, the action is comforting to kids, so they develop the habit as a means of soothing themselves. In some cases, it may even help your child fall asleep with greater ease.

While thumb sucking may seem innocuous on the surface, it can actually be harmful if it goes on for too long. If you are worried that thumb sucking may be hurting your child’s oral health, here’s what you need to know.

At What Age Should Thumb Sucking be Discouraged?

In most cases, children naturally stop sucking their thumb between the ages of two and four. However, if that doesn’t occur, parents may need to discourage the behavior once their child is four years old. Otherwise, the excessive pressure can cause damage.

If you need to intervene, it is best to take a gentle approach. Instead of scolding your child for sucking their thumb, praise them when they don’t. When your kid manages not to suck their thumb during a difficult, stressful period, consider giving them a reward.

Identifying the causes of their stress can also help. Then, you can remove the stressors, which may lead the activity to subside more naturally.

How Thumb Sucking Can Harm Oral Health

If thumb sucking continues past the age of four, the pressure and sucking motion can cause changes to your child’s mouth and teeth. The front teeth may begin to protrude, and their upper and lower teeth may not be able to touch, affecting their bite.

As more time passes and permanent teeth begin to come in, alignment issues will increase. In some cases, changes to the structure of the jaw and the palette (the roof of the mouth) can also occur.

There can also be other issues if your child sucks their thumb and their hand is not clean. They may ingest substances that aren’t safe, such as floor cleaner residue or dirt. Additionally, they could expose themselves to bacteria or viruses that were present on things they have touched. This could increase the odds of them becoming ill or even developing an infection in their mouth, especially if their gum tissue is damaged.

How Your Frisco Dentist Can Help

If your child is continuing to suck their thumb, keeping regular appointments with your Frisco dentist is a must. Your dentist can monitor your child’s oral health to ensure that damage isn’t occurring. Additionally, they can give you additional options to discourage the behavior, such as a prescription mouth appliance or medication that can coat the thumb and stop the activity.

If your child hasn’t visited their Frisco dentist in the last six months, schedule an appointment today. That way, your dentist can be your ally as you work to discourage your child’s thumb sucking.

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