Thumb Sucking Can be Bad for Children’s Teeth

Early Dental Care - Baby Brushing

Thumb sucking is a very natural thing for a child to do, and for many it develops as a reflex. While it can be a useful method for stress reduction and coping for infants, it can become a problem as the child ages and starts developing teeth.

Since thumbs or fingers come in direct contact with teeth that are coming in, they have a direct impact on the growth and future state of the teeth and jaw. Not only could this result in crooked or unhealthy teeth, but it could also have impacts on a child’s speech and/or bite. That means that until the child is old enough for braces, talking or chewing may be difficult or irregular.

Normally, children tend to stop sucking their thumbs as their teeth begin to come in. In some cases this is due to the child developing other coping mechanisms due to language or mobility. However, many children continue to suck their thumbs or fingers past infancy. Some studies show that even in children as young as two years, thumb sucking can have negative effects on the jaw.

While it is always a good idea to consult a dentist when your child’s teeth first come in, there are ways to wean your child off thumbs ucking as they start to grow up.

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that you keep a positive attitude towards your child when weaning them off thumb sucking. They offer the following tips to parents:

  • Praise your child for not sucking.
  • Children often suck their thumbs when feeling insecure or needing comfort. Focus on correcting the cause of the anxiety and provide comfort to your child.
  • For an older child, involve him or her in choosing the method of stopping.
  • Your dentist can offer encouragement to your child and explain what could happen to their teeth if they do not stop sucking.

If your child is having problems with his or her teeth or if you are concerned about how their habits might affect the development of their teeth, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with one of the dentists at Little Rock Family Dental Care.