Thumb sucking is a common habit in children under three, but it can have serious consequences as the child’s mouth continues to develop. At Kidz Connextion Dental Care, we advise that children should learn to stop sucking their thumbs before their permanent teeth start coming in, as malocclusions, jaw misalignment, and changes to the shape of the roof of the mouth could all occur if they continue.
There is a difference between thumb sucking and simply holding the thumb in the mouth; while the latter may not be good for a child’s social life, it isn’t nearly as damaging to their health. Using a pacifier, however, will cause the same changes in skull shape, and even after the child stops sucking on something, they may continue to thrust their tongue forward, which can also cause misalignment.
Often, thumb sucking is motivated by anxiety, and offering a child some kind of reassurance or alternative means of gaining comfort may be necessary. There are also devices which can be used to discourage thumb sucking if it is becoming a serious problem. If your child is old enough to understand why their dentist is concerned, they may be able to actively participate in finding a solution.
Kidz Connextion Dental Care maintains offices around Phoenix. To find out more, visit our website at KidzConnextion.com.