Thumb Sucking- Get Support at Your Greatwood Dentist


There is nothing more adorable than a baby in a blanket with his thumb in his mouth. However, this cute little habit may cause long term dental effects. The American Dental Association says most children can safely suck their thumb — without damaging the alignment of their teeth or jaws — until their permanent teeth begin to appear. Permanent teeth don’t usually erupt until around age 6. Also, not all children’s thumb-sucking has the same impact. Experts say it’s the intensity of the sucking and the tongue’s thrust that deforms teeth and makes braces necessary later. Children who rest their thumb passively in their mouth are less likely to have difficulty than children who suck aggressively. Watch your child, analyze his technique or ask your Greatwood dentist for advice.

Children who suck their thumbs for extended periods of time will disrupt the natural growth pattern of their teeth. This damage could include abnormal alignment of teeth, known as a malocclusion, as well as damage to the structure of the roof of the mouth. Perhaps most noticeable among the dental difficulties are buck teeth, which result when the pressure of the thumb pushes the top teeth out and away from each other. It’s possible that malocclusions will take care of themselves once the child stops sucking his or her thumb, but movement of the teeth will probably involve dental work. If he sucks vigorously, you may want to begin curbing his habit earlier, say at age 4.

To help children along, parents can put socks or gloves on their little hands, particularly at nighttime.  Nagging or punishing your child won’t help, because he doesn’t usually realize when he’s sucking away. Besides, pressuring him to stop may intensify his desire to do it even more. Try to wait it out.  If you need support with ending the thumb sucking habit, visit your Greatwood dentist.