Thumb Sucking and Your Child’s Oral Health

Little asian girl sucking thumb on sofa.

Does your child have a habit of sucking his or her thumb? As they get older, you may start to wonder if this might be affecting how their teeth are developing and if it might cause problems in the future. Read on for some more information about thumb sucking and what the professionals have to say about it.

What will years of thumb sucking do to your child’s teeth?

Thumb sucking is very common in babies and toddlers – they do it as a way to calm themselves when they are upset or anxious. However, around the age of 3 or 4, this habit can start to cause damage. The constant pressure of the thumb can cause the front teeth to jut forward and the teeth that are coming in to be out of alignment. Eventually, this can lead to crooked teeth (and the need for orthodontics) and even jaw problems and pain.

How can you stop your child from thumb sucking?

In the best case scenario, your child may just quit on their own. They may start to notice if they are the only one in the play group who sucks their thumb, and they may quit because they feel self-conscious. However, most parents know that things usually aren’t that easy with kids!

There are many different techniques out there you can try to stop the thumb sucking habit. Reward systems are always popular with kids; you could use a sticker chart and give them a sticker for each day they don’t suck their thumb, with a bigger reward after a week of no thumb sucking. You could try to taper it off, by only allowing thumb sucking at bedtime. There are also thumb guards out there that can physically prevent any thumb sucking. And of course, your dentist may have their own tried and true way to help your child break the habit.

Thumb sucking can be a bad habit that can be harmful to your child’s oral health. For help taking care of the whole family’s oral health, make an appointment with Avenue Dental today. Call the office in Ypsilanti, Michigan, at (734) 484-4710!