Effects Of Thumb Sucking And How To Avoid Them

27 February 2017
 Categories: Dentist, Blog

A child may begin thumb sucking before birth. The natural practice offers a ready way for the little one to soothe him or herself. If your child sucks his or her thumb, you may give little thought to the long-term effects associated with the practice. Here are a few effects of thumb-sucking and how they can be avoided:

Narrow Upper Jaw

As your child's upper jaw develops, the force of the sucking can cause the upper palate to narrow. This causes the teeth on each side of the upper palate to be closer together than they naturally would. As a result, a crossbite forms. The teeth on the sides of the upper and lower palates will not meet as they should.

Opening Between the Top and Bottom Front Teeth

As your child sucks a thumb, the pressure forces the top front teeth forward and the bottom front teeth backward. A gap forms between the top and bottom front teeth. When children who suck their thumbs close their mouth, the back top and bottom teeth may meet, but an opening remains between the top and bottom front teeth.

Speech Issues

As your child is learning to talk, thumb sucking can affect speech development. The dental misalignment caused by the sucking can make word formation difficult.

Avoiding the Effects of Thumb Sucking

If thumb sucking is stopped early enough, negative effects are minimized. It is important for the child to stop the practice before his or her permanent teeth start to erupt. Thus, parents should try to help their children overcome the habit by the time their little ones reach the age of four. 

There are a few other factors that also impact the effects of thumb sucking. Here are two of them:

  • How hard the child sucks the thumb- Children who suck their thumbs with a great intensity usually have more evident effects from the practice. 
  • How often the child sucks the thumb- Some children only suck their thumbs during extreme periods of stress. They may not suffer severe long-term effects because of the infrequency of the practice. 

To help their children stop thumb sucking, parents should applaud them every time the children avoid the practice. They should also give their little ones healthy items, such as fresh fruit and sugarless gum, to occupy their mouths. 

For more information about thumb sucking and its effects, schedule a consultation with a professional of family dentistry in your local area.