Effects of Thumb Sucking

ID-10057556Babies have an instinctive sucking reflex that aids them during feeding. This reflex causes babies to suck anything that reaches their mouth, and naturally one of the first things they are able to obtain is their own thumb. Thumb sucking provides a soothing and pleasurable sensation for babies, and sometimes the habit is hard to break. Furthermore, thumb sucking by infants may sometimes signal fatigue, hunger, teething, and shyness.

Thirty percent of preschool children continue the habit of thumb sucking. The ideal age to start breaking the habit is around 24 months. When children with permanent teeth continue to suck their thumb, it may cause problems with the development of the mouth and alignment of the teeth. It can also cause changes in the roof of the mouth. These are a few examples of the negative effects thumb sucking may have on the mouth:

  • An overbite or buck teeth, which can alter the shape of the face
  • Teeth that grow out of alignment and positioning
  • Upper teeth that flare out and tip upward
  • Lower teeth that move inward
  • A lisp that interferes with the correct formation of certain speech sounds

To help children stop sucking their thumb, experts suggest offering rewards, encouragement and distractions to prevent the harmful behavior.

Please contact our Marion dental office to schedule an appointment with Dr. Chamberlain if you are concerned about your child’s thumb sucking and what it means to his/her oral health.
“Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

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