Often Hendricks County parents ask us, “Will thumbsucking really ruin my child’s teeth?” It all depends on how often, how long and with what intensity your child sucks his thumb.
Thumbsucking is a natural reflex for infants and young children. It helps babies feel secure and soothes them in times of stress, helping them fall asleep. Additionally, thumbsucking can distract and satisfy a baby in times of hunger.
About 80% of babies and young children suck their thumbs at some point. But most children stop sucking their thumb between the ages of 2 and 4, or around the time their permanent front teeth are ready to come in. But what happens if your child doesn’t stop?
Consequences of Thumbsucking
If your Hendricks County child continues to suck her thumb after her permanent teeth come in, your child may develop problems with misalignment of her teeth and her bite as well as damage to the roof of her mouth. One noticeable dental problem that can develop is buck teeth, which occurs when the thumb pushes the top teeth out and away from each other. Changes in your child’s teeth can also cause speech problems like a lisp. As a result, your child may need to have dental work done and/or wear braces in the future.
But it really depends on the intensity of your child’s thumbsucking. Children who are aggressive thumbsuckers are more likely to develop dental problems. While children who simply rest their thumbs passively in their mouths or only suck their thumbs occasionally are less likely to have oral issues.
Tips to Help Your Child Stop Thumbsucking
Some things you can do to help your child break the thumbsucking habit are:
- Praise your child when he doesn’t suck his thumb.
- Put socks or gloves on her hands, especially at nighttime.
- Determine what’s causing your child’s anxiety since children often suck their thumbs when they feel insecure. Comfort your child and ease their worries.
- Have older children get involved in choosing a way to stop their habit.
- Have Dr. Jon Erickson at Danville Family Dentistry talk to your child and explain what can happen to his teeth if he doesn’t stop sucking his thumb.
- Ask Dr. Erickson or your child’s pediatrician if they can prescribe a bitter medication to coat your child’s thumb.
- Talk to Dr. Erickson about getting a mouth device to prevent thumbsucking.
If you notice any changes to your child’s primary teeth or are concerned about your child’s thumbsucking, contact our Hendricks County office today.