How Does Thumb Sucking Affect Teeth?

Posted on Nov 8, 2018 6:58 pm

Nearly all children have a pacifier or thumb sucking habit at some point, but most will outgrow this habit on their own. However, the negative effects become more difficult to correct the longer it goes untreated. At The Woodlands Smiles, we understand the importance of an orthodontic practitioner, and we are dedicated to providing patients with the necessary information and care to maintain a healthy smile.

What Is Thumb Sucking?

Thumb sucking is a natural habit for children. Sucking on thumbs, pacifiers, or other objects may create a soothing feeling or sense of security to help with falling asleep. Thumb sucking is a typical habit of babies, so it may feel unnatural to stop them. However, breaking the habit of thumb sucking early on is important to avoid causing developmental issues in the mouth.

How Can Thumb Sucking Affect My Child’s Teeth?

Once a child’s permanent teeth come in, thumb sucking may affect the proper alignment of the growth of teeth and jaw. The intensity of thumb sucking is a factor that determines the level of damage. Some children who are aggressive thumbsuckers may develop problems with their baby teeth early on. The force of thumb sucking can cause teeth to tip forward, which leads to complicated malocclusions such as open bites, crossbites, or overjets.

What Are The Consequences Of Thumb Sucking?

how thumb sucking affects teeth the woodlands txThumb sucking, similar to a pacifier, can help young children with developing strong jaw muscles. However, thumb sucking is a habit that may cause a child to withdraw and ‘zone out’ instead of interacting. While thumb sucking may appear like an innocent reflex, the results can affect your child’s health later on in their adult life. The long-term negative consequences of thumb sucking include:

  • Narrowing of the jaw
  • Shrinking the airway
  • Altered breathing
  • Poor swallow patterns
  • Misaligned teeth
  • Hindered speech
  • Abnormal tongue placement

When Should Children Stop Sucking Their Thumbs?

Children usually stop sucking their thumbs between the ages of two and four years old, or by the time their permanent front teeth start to erupt. However, some doctors recommend stopping thumb sucking between 6 months and a year. If you notice abnormalities in your child’s primary teeth or are concerned about your child’s thumb sucking, consult with a Woodlands orthodontist such as Dr. Eschelman. Remember, the older a child gets the more difficult breaking this habit can be.

Finding Out How Thumb Sucking Affects Teeth In The Woodlands TX

Dr. Eschelman and our team at The Woodlands Smiles are experts in pediatric dentistry. We are here to answer any questions or concerns you may have regarding thumb sucking or how does thumb sucking affect teeth in The Woodlands TX and surrounding areas of Montgomery County TX. Contact The Woodlands Smiles to schedule a free consultation today. Call now (281) 362-5121.

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