About Thumb Sucking

Thumb sucking is considered, by many, to be a very natural occurrence for children. When a child sucks their thumb, they may be reducing tension for themselves. Thumb sucking can help an infant to cope better, and it can help soothe your child to sleep. Unfortunately, thumb sucking may also pose problems with a child’s teeth. The issues may arise when a child begins to develop their teeth. It is common for children to quit sucking their thumbs when their teeth start to come in, but many children who do not quit on their own when teeth begin to emerge. Many children stop this habit between the ages of two years old and four years old. School-age children will stop when peer pressure begins.

Age Two and Possible Negative Effects

Some children are still sucking their thumbs when their second birthday rolls around. There have been studies conducted that have shown the negative effects that this has for some children. Their jaw can actually be affected. If you have a two-year-old who is still sucking their thumb, it may be a good idea to consult a dentist to determine if this is affecting them in a negative way. You may need to sway your child from this habit. This can be done slowly and in a positive way.

Common Concerns and Negative Affects

It is wise to be aware of some of the negative effects and some of the common concerns that thumb sucking brings up with children. There are times when thumb sucking may cause issues with the overall normal oral development for a child. The following are included with the possible negative effects and concerns:

  • Dental problems; the teeth might experience alignment problems with their permanent teeth. This is called malocclusion. The result may be an overbite
  • Speech problems
  • Problems with the palate (the roof of the mouth)
  • Hindrance in the proper growth of teeth
  • Crooked or unhealthy teeth

If a child is a passive thumb-sucker, they may be less prone to experience many of these negative affects. Those children who are constantly and vigorously sucking their thumbs are more apt to experience negative affects.

Encouraging Children to Break the Habit

If your child is causing negative affects by their thumb sucking, you may need to break this habit. You can empower your child to break their thumb sucking habit. The following ideas may be beneficial:

  • Offer praise when not thumb sucking, but never scold for doing so
  • Provide gentle and friendly reminders when you catch them sucking their thumb
  • Try placing a Band-Aid on their thumb
  • Speak with a dental professional

There are numerous methods that will help you to empower your child to break their habit. These are a just a few to help get you started on the road to breaking their habit. If you’d like to schedule a dental appointment for yourself and/or your children in the San Marcos area, but aren’t sure where to turn, give the office of Larry D. Molenda a call today! We’d love to meet with you and help keep you and your family’s smiles looking beautiful!