AAO Ragan Orthodontics in Dallas, TX

How Can Thumb Sucking Affect My Child’s Tooth Development?

You have watched your little one suck his thumb since he was a baby. It’s a natural response for infants, providing them with comfort and soothing them. Babies often suck on their thumbs as they fall asleep. As they become older, thumb sucking often becomes a habit.

While some children use pacifiers, others find it easier to simply use their thumbs. It is not as much of a concern for infants. However, once your child’s teeth begin to come in, it can have a negative effect.

How Can Thumb Sucking Affect Tooth Development?

Thumb sucking can cause a problem with your child’s permanent teeth. It can affect how your child’s teeth come in, the position of the teeth, the development of your child’s mouth and the roof of the mouth.

If your child just rests his thumb in his mouth, it is not as much of a concern. If he sucks with force and it happens often, dental problems are more likely in the future.

Thumb sucking usually ends by the time your child is four. This is the point when baby teeth will begin to fall out and adult teeth will begin to appear. You will want to encourage your child to stop sucking his thumb before permanent teeth develop.

What Can You Do About Thumb Sucking?

The main thing you need to remember is that you should take a gentle approach as you help your child to stop sucking his thumb. Provide your child with encouragement and praise whenever your child does not suck his thumb.

You can also create a reward system that will provide your little one with an incentive to stop. Help your child to avoid anxiety and give him a sense of security.

Bitter-tasting medication can also be applied to your child’s thumb. Otherwise, there are oral appliances that are worn at night to keep your child’s thumb out of his mouth.

You don’t want it to be a traumatic process for your child, but it is important that he stops before it causes damage to his teeth. The biggest concern is the need for orthodontic work when he is older if his teeth are not aligned properly.

Talk to Us About Thumb Sucking

If your child’s thumb sucking is a concern for you, Ragan Orthodontics in Dallas can help your child to finally break this habit with a variety of solutions.

Through a team effort, we can gently wean your child off of thumb sucking and find other ways for him to comfort himself. It is all part of getting older. Your child will get through this rite of passage with help from Dr. Ragan and his team. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.