Thumb-sucking is a normal habit in babies and toddlers, and most children outgrow it by the time they start school. Unfortunately, some children continue to suck their thumb, and that can affect their speech and other areas of their life. This is where a thumb guard comes into play.
How Does Thumb-Sucking Damage Teeth?
A child’s permanent teeth start to come in when they are around five years old. If they are still sucking their thumb at that age, the child’s teeth could be pushed out of alignment. The problems tend to be more severe if the child sucks their thumb vigorously as opposed to just sticking it in their mouth. Vigorous thumb-sucking can lead to problems like an overbite or open bite. It can also cause the roof of the mouth to become deformed, and it can push the jaws out of alignment.
How Can a Parent Help Their Child?
Parents need to remember that thumb-sucking is normal up until a certain age, and they also need to remember that a child sucks their thumb to soothe themselves and relieve stress. Punishing a child, therefore, does not work. It makes the stress and thumb-sucking worse. Instead, the parents should use praise and encouragement to get a child to stop sucking their thumb. For example, if the child manages to go a set time without putting their thumb in their mouth, the parents should praise them.
If an older child is still sucking their thumb, the parents need to find out what kind of stresses are making the child feel that overwhelmed. Dental appliances like the thumb guard are generally a good option.
What is a Thumb Guard?
A thumb guard is an appliance worn over the child’s thumb. The thumb guard covers the thumb and creates an air gap between the thumb and the child’s mouth. The child, therefore, cannot produce the suction that makes thumb-sucking so harmful. The child can still put their thumb in their mouth and feel soothed, but they’re not going to do any damage to the mouth.
If your child is still sucking their thumb and you are ready to do something about it, make an appointment with our orthodontist at Ragan Orthodontics in Dallas to learn more information about thumb guards. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.