Childrens Orthodontics and Thumb Sucking

Posted on: April 1, 2016

OrthodonticsMany babies will suck on their thumb which could cause the need for orthodontics in the future.  It is fairly normal for babies to either suck their thumb or use a pacifier in order for them to self-sooth. It is best to not encourage this habit whenever possible, but it tends to form naturally. The challenge is that once children start to suck their thumb, the habit can be hard to break.  While the average child may stop by around the age of four, many go much longer.

In orthodontics, we treat children and adults and help them to have a beautiful smile.  We also provide advice and guidance on things that can be done proactively to make braces unnecessary or to decrease how long a patient will need to wear them.  One tip we commonly give to parents is to have their child stop sucking their thumb as soon as possible.

There are several ways to address the issue with your child, and these tips should be used in light of how old and mature they are.  The first step to take is simply to let your child know that they should not suck their thumb anymore and give them reminders to stop when you notice them doing it.  You can also distract them with other things to keep them occupied.  This habit can occur when children are bored or zoning out watching television.  Give them a cup of water instead or an activity to do.  For example, they can color during their favorite cartoon instead of simply sitting on the couch.

If your child is older than four and still sucking their thumb, you may want to apply something that makes the thumb taste bad like liquid soap.  Some children have success by sitting on their hands to prevent them from being tempted.  Rewards can also be helpful so try giving them a special sticker when they go a day without their thumb.

The Risks of Thumb Sucking

As a provider of children’s orthodontics, we commonly treat kids that have sucked their thumb for years and as a result have issues that need to be corrected.  For example, an overbite can develop where the top teeth protrude past the lower ones.  A crossbite may also occur where teeth shift to the side or may go inside of the lower ones.  An open bite is also fairly common and in this case, there is a small or large gap between the upper and lower teeth when a child bites down.  All of these conditions can make it more difficult to eat and speak in addition to impacting a child’s appearance.

If your child needs braces, we will provide superior care that can straighten their teeth and align their jaw.  If you can get them to stop sucking their thumb early, you may be able to decrease the amount of time they will spend wearing braces in the future.  In order to learn more call today.

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