Friday, September 25, 2015

Thumb sucking and its effects on the oral environment

How Can Thumbsucking Affect My Child's Teeth?

After permanent teeth come in, sucking may cause problems with the proper growth of the mouth and alignment of the teeth. It can also cause changes in the bone structure on the roof of the mouth.

Pacifiers can affect the teeth essentially the same ways as sucking fingers and thumbs, but it is often an easier habit to break. You can take away a soother...not a thumb!

The intensity of the sucking is a factor that determines whether or not dental problems may result and how extensive the malformations could be. If children rest their thumbs passively in their mouth, they are less likely to have problems kicking the habit than those who vigorously suck their thumbs. Some aggressive thumbsuckers may develop problems with their baby (primary) teeth and how they erupt as well.

When Do Children Stop Sucking Their Thumbs?

There is no "set" age as to when children stop, but usually children are encouraged to stop sucking between the ages of two and four years of age or before their permanent front teeth are ready to erupt. If you notice changes in your child’s primary teeth, or are concerned about your child’s thumbsucking habit, consult with Dr. Gray or your hygienist for proper approaches and techniques to stop or correct the effects.

How Can I Help My Child Stop Thumbsucking?
  • Praise your child for not sucking.
  • Help remind them when caught sucking.
  • For an older child, involve him or her in choosing the method of stopping or helpful substituted like sugar free gum etc.
  • Us here at the dental office can also offer encouragement to your child and explain what could happen to their teeth if they do not stop sucking.
If these tips don’t work there are other methods with bitter nail polish, socks over the hand they usually suck on at night, or a special appliance called a crib can be custom fabricated by Dr. Gray to ensure they can’t suck their thumbs or fingers (and is very successful).

Sara Haire
Dental Hygienist

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