Thumb-Sucking and Your Child’s Teeth
December 17, 2015
It’s more than just a little habit. If you child is a thumb-sucker, he or she could experience real dental problems later on as a result. Help protect your little one’s oral health by educating yourself on why thumb-sucking occurs, and what you can do to prevent it. Dr. Rohner and the whole pediatric team in Birmingham, AL are here with more information to help your child enjoy a healthy, beautiful smile — now, and for years to come.
Thumb-Sucking: What, Why and How to Stop It
Sucking is a natural movement in very young children. It’s one of the first things they master, and how they receive the most basic comfort: food. So it’s no surprise that they start to associate the movement with safety — and they may use pacifiers, their fingers or thumbs to find this comfort, even after they’re eating solid foods.
Before permanent teeth erupt, thumb-sucking presents no problems. But if the habit persists beyond the age of three or four, real oral issues can occur as a result, mainly with the proper growth of the mouth and alignment of the teeth.
Issues associated with thumb-sucking past the age of four include the following:
- Misalignment of teeth
- Teeth pushed outward
- Speech problems (especially with T and D sounds)
- Tongue thrusting while speaking
You can help your child stop this habit by keeping a few simple things in mind. For instance, children often turn to thumb-sucking in moments of anxiety, like being separated from their parents — so you can work on helping them overcome the insecurity instead of sucking. They’ll feel the need to do it less when you provide the comfort they’re seeking, instead.
Some other stop thumb-sucking tips include:
- Recognizing when a child might suck and reward them for not doing so
- Consult your pediatric dentist, who can talk to your child and help him or her understand why the habit is harmful and what they might do instead
- Cover the child’s hand with a sock at night (usually used as a last resort)
Stop Thumb-Sucking: Visit the Pediatric Dentist in Birmingham
When thumb-sucking becomes a real problem, please remember that you and your child can always visit the pediatric dentist in Birmingham, Dr. Angelica Rohner. She and her team are here to make sure your little one’s smile stays strong during childhood, putting them on the road to a lifetime of healthy teeth. We treat each child like they’re our own — so contact us to book your child’s dental appointment in Birmingham today.
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