Thumb Sucking

Thumb Sucking
Posted on 03/03/2021
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Why Thumb Sucking Is A Bad Habit That Should Stop

What to do if your child suffers from chronic thumb sucking, and how orthodontic treatment can help.

We all know thumb sucking is common among babies and children. In most cases, thumb sucking does stop between the age of 2 to 4, however it can persist after the age of 5. It is last past the age of 5, this is when it can cause real problems for children and may require orthodontic treatment. Parents should be aware that it could alter the alignment of their child's teeth and jaw and should consider a consultation with an orthodontist to see if early intervention treatment is needed. Here are things to remember if your child is sucking their thumbs, and how Tilghman Orthodontics can help.

How Does Thumb Sucking Cause Orthodontic Problems?

Your child's habits can influence the development and function of their jaws, teeth, and mouth. The most obvious is that it can change their front teeth alignment. The thumb can cause protrusion of the upper front teeth, which will make them more prone to injury. Not only can the teeth change, but so can the jaw. As a child is growing, their jaw and the way how it functions changes drastically. Chronic thumb sucking can change the shape of the jaw. With thumb sucking, the upper jaw can narrow, which means it will not match with the bottom jaw, causing a crossbite. Another common problem that can occur is the possibility of an open bite developing. This is when the upper and lower front teeth don't meet when the mouth is closed, causing a hole in the smile. This can cause problems with speech and chewing.

Factors That Influence the Severity

There are different factors that can influence your child’s teeth and jaw. Depending on the duration and frequency your child sucks their thumb, this can cause the type of orthodontic treatment your child may need in the future. If the thumb sucking habit doesn’t last long or your child doesn’t suck their thumb for a long time on a given day, then it’s most likely that this will not have any long-term effects. If your child constantly sucks their thumb all day and night, then this will damage their teeth and jaw in the long run.

How Braces Can Help

The jaw and teeth misalignment caused by thumb sucking can be fixed with braces. It’s best for your child to see an orthodontist by the age of 10.  By then, your orthodontist will be able to make the best judgement to see what your child needs. If they notice that the jaw shape has been altered by thumb sucking, they may recommend starting treatment early so they can work on repairing the jaw while it’s growing. If a child’s baby front teeth are protruded, they may benefit from a plate or a fixed tongue of thumb/finger guard.

If you have concerns about your child’s thumb sucking habit, speak to Drs. Tilghman and Schwartz. We’ll be able to tell you if the habit has caused any long-term problems and assess the chances of more problems developing if your child continues to suck their thumb.

If you notice that your child is chronically sucking their thumb, and know that they need orthodontic work done, please contact us today at Tilghman Orthodontics. We offer all types of early orthodontic treatment to children. If you have any questions or concerns about your child receiving orthodontic care, please feel free to reach out to us! We are here to guide families and inform them of any orthodontic treatment plan they need. Schedule an appointment with us today!