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Orthodontist Explains Risks of Thumb Sucking and Treatment

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Children’s orthodontist explains thumb sucking.Babies and infants naturally suck on fingers, thumbs, and pacifiers as it is a natural reflex and soothing technique. Often, parents find this behavior to be cute, but did you know that thumb sucking can lead to orthodontic problems for your child later in life? Usually around the age of two to four, children outgrow thumb sucking, which is about the time the permanent teeth are about to come in. However, if a child does not stop sucking their thumb after the permanent teeth have erupted, they are going to need to see a children’s orthodontist.

Why Is Thumb Sucking Bad?

If your child continues to suck their thumb or fingers past the age of four, it may cause problems with the proper growth of the mouth and the alignment of the teeth. In some cases, it may even cause changes to occur with the top of the mouth. The problems are more common in aggressive thumb suckers, such as those who make popping or clicking sounds when sucking their thumb. Aggressive thumb suckers may even start developing problems with their baby teeth.

How Can I Get My Child to Stop?

Often, children will stop sucking their thumb on their own before the age of four. However, it is never too early to break your child from the bad habit. To stop your child from sucking their thumb, you need to understand why they do it in the first place.

Discover what triggers your child to suck their thumb, such as anxiety or if they feel insecure. When your child is triggered, try to address the issue causing them to want to suck their thumb and help to refocus their attention to a more appropriate behavior. Finally, offer praise when they avoid sucking their thumb.

There are various other methods that are used to help break children from thumb sucking, such as the use of bitter medication and placing socks on the hands. However, there are times when this will not work. Despite your best efforts, your child may continue to suck their thumb. If you just cannot get your child to stop sucking their thumb, Shirck Orthodontics can help.

We provide thumb cribs, which is an oral appliance that is placed in the mouth. The appliance is positioned behind the top arch of teeth to prevent young patients from sucking their thumb. If damage to the alignment of the teeth has already occurred due to thumb sucking, braces will be needed once that habit has been broken with the thumb crib.

Stop the Thumb Sucking

Young children naturally find sucking things soothing. Not to mention, placing things in their mouth, such as fingers and pacifiers is a natural way for them to explore their world. However, you want to break these habits as soon as possible because it can cause long-term damage to their oral health.

If you are having trouble getting your child to stop sucking their thumb or fingers, please contact Shirck Orthodontics to schedule a consultation. We offer the necessary interventions to stop the long-term consequences of thumb sucking.