Forms Download our Forms Request Request an Appointment Call Call Us Map View Map

Is Thumb-Sucking Bad for a Child’s Oral Health?

July 20, 2023

Filed under: Uncategorized — dryoungblood @ 4:10 pm
A baby sucking their thumb

As you might know, it’s normal for little kids to suck their thumbs. The habit lets them explore their world and acts as a comfort. Still, you’ll want your kiddo to quit this practice over time. The reality is that chronic thumb-sucking is bad for a child’s oral health. If they persist with it, their mouths will suffer problems. Thankfully, your local pediatric dentist can resolve the situation. Read on to learn the issues caused by thumb-sucking, as well as how to discourage your child from the latter.

What Issues Can Thumb-Sucking Cause?

True enough, thumb-sucking has positive benefits for infants and toddlers. It helps them manage stress, cope with teething, and more. However, the habit has serious downsides when it becomes chronic. If your child still sucks their thumb past the toddler stage, they might develop:

Malocclusion or Tooth Misalignment

When a child sucks their thumb too much, their upper and lower teeth can become misaligned. This condition is also known as a malocclusion.

The most common malocclusion from thumb-sucking is an open bite. This problem occurs when the top and bottom teeth don’t touch one another, even when the mouth is closed. Left untreated, it can cause chewing pain, tooth decay, and even gum disease.

Poor Jaw & Face Development

Unfortunately, extensive thumb-sucking can harm how a child’s jaw and face develop. The pressure from excessive sucking may shift their teeth, affecting their overall facial structure.

These sorts of jaw and face changes carry severe risks. Often enough, they force a child to change how they bite and chew. Said changes, in turn, can lead to an orofacial myological disorder (OMD) – a condition that needs extensive treatment.

Speech Impediments

Lastly, chronic thumb-sucking can even affect how your child talks. The reason is that it triggers tooth and bite problems that result in speech impediments.

For example, one such impediment is lisping. Malocclusions from thumb-sucking can cause kids to struggle with S, Z, L, and R sounds.

How Can You Discourage the Habit?

You have the power to discourage your child from thumb-sucking. To that end, consider the tips listed below:

  • Find Alternatives: If your child sucks their thumb as a coping mechanism, find healthy alternatives for them. These might include holding a blanket or playing with a favored toy.
  • Reduce Your Child’s Stress: As best you can, help your child reduce or manage their stress levels. They’ll typically suck their thumb less when they calm down.
  • Use Rewards: Track your child’s behavior with a chart. As they spend time without thumb-sucking, reward them with a certain number of stickers.

Clearly, chronic thumb-sucking is bad for a child’s oral health. That being the case, observe your little one and see your dentist for advice as needed.

About the Practice

Family Dental Center of East Texas is based in Center, TX. Led by Dr. Thomas Youngblood, our practice provides top-quality dental care for all ages. We thus offer preventive, cosmetic, and restorative services, as well as emergency procedures like tooth extractions. Our office can also help child patients with intellectual or physical disabilities. If you’d like more information or to book a visit, you can reach us on our website or by phone at (936)-427-9070.

No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.