Thumb sucking is a natural phenomenon that is seen in many babies right after birth. It offers security and comfort to the children but at a cost – their teeth. Thumbsuckers, as they grow up, often face the issue of having improper teeth. It is advised to make them get rid of this habit during growth years since it poses a threat to perfect smile. It is best not to let your children retain this habit past the age of 3.
One thing to note here is that there are two kinds of thumbsuckers, active and passive. Every individual will not face the issue of misaligned teeth with this habit. If your child is a passive thumb sucker and just keeps the thumb between its teeth, it is not much of an issue. However, in the case of active sucking, wide range of problems arise. Let’s take a deeper look.
Thumb Sucking and Teeth
As mentioned earlier, active thumbsuckers face teeth distortion. It affects the jaw and changes the shape of the mouth roof. Sometimes, when the transition of thumbsucker’s teeth from primary to permanent takes place, the issue corrects itself. However, if the thumb sucking is continuous, its pressure is immense and leads to misalignment of the child’s permanent set of teeth.
Thumb sucking exposes the child to various external factors like dirt, dust, bacteria, etc. It is found that thumbsuckers have better immunity than others in the longer run, a plus apart from the teeth problem. But, there are many other ways to improve immunity; you cannot encourage thumb sucking habits.
Mouth and Teeth Defects of Thumbsuckers
The level of thumb sucking determines the effect on teeth. Harsh and vigorous thumb sucking due to the pressure makes changes in the jaw and mouth roof. Some of the problems associated are:
- Bite problem. The teeth must align when the two jaws meet. In thumbsuckers, due to pressure, the frontal teeth protrude out.
- The teeth may also dip inwards towards the back; the teeth do not align in this case as well.
- The development of a lisp is common.
The good news is that most of these issues, like baby teeth, are temporary, granted if thumb sucking stops as soon as permanent teeth come in.
How to Break the Habit?
Mostly, thumbsuckers stop this habit by the time their permanent teeth start settling in – like 4 or 5. So it is better to observe and not force your child to stop sucking their thumb. Take positive measures to make them get rid of this habit. For starters, here is what can do:
- Good behavior rewards – it is a good habit to instill the reward and punishment concept in your children. Explain to your child why it is important to get rid of this habit and the reward that follows if complied with.
- Distraction – thumbsuckers have different triggers; they look for safety and comfort, which is found through this. A parent’s hug works wonders to provide strength and comfort. Make sure your child feels safe enough to let go of their thumb.
- Make creative stories – children love fairies, make them want to get rid of the habit using tooth fairy stories.
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