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How Can Thumb Sucking Negatively Impact a Child’s Teeth?

January 19, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — drbenzley @ 4:56 pm
a young child with blue eyes holding a blanket and engaging in thumb sucking

Whether it is a pacifier or thumb sucking, it is likely that your child picked up on one of these two ways to “comfort” themselves at an early age. Although cute and sweet when little, over time, these bad habits can have a negative impact on their oral health, most especially their teeth. To find out what can happen as a result of these coping and comforting mechanisms, hear from a pediatric dentist who will also be happy to share what you can do to keep your little one happy while protecting their teeth.

What Kind of Impact Does Thumb Sucking Have on a Child’s Teeth?

As a baby or toddler, it should come as no surprise that your child finds comfort in sucking their thumb. This is a completely normal behavior that many kids develop; however, if allowed to go on too long, it can lead to serious consequences for their smile, some of which include:

  • Overbite
  • Changes in the roof of the mouth
  • Misalignment of teeth or bite

In most cases, children between the ages of 2 and 4 will stop sucking their thumb; however, if it does not stop, it is best if you schedule an appointment with your child’s pediatric dentist to discuss ways to curb the practice to prevent serious tooth problems from developing.

How Can It Be Stopped?

There are a few things you can do to help your child forgo this bad habit and get them on track to better oral health, including:

  • Identifying triggers: If your little one immediately pops their thumb in their mouth when hungry, tired, or bord, work to address the problem by finding the appropriate remedy. Keeping them engaged with their hands can prevent them from pulling their fingers into their mouth.
  • Remind your child: When you notice them sucking their thumb, do not resort to anger or threats. Instead, calmly remind them to stop and don’t be easily deterred if you have to do this multiple times.
  • Offer positive reinforcement: To help your child stop sucking their thumb, praise them when they are not practicing the habit. It can also be helpful to enlist a sticker chart or other reward system for encouragement.

The most important and useful resource is your child’s pediatric dentist. They will be happy to answer any questions and offer tips and suggestions on various ways to curb non-nutritive habits like thumb sucking or pacifier use.

About the Author
Dr. Layne Benzley understands that children can develop normal, yet, bad habits from an early age (i.e. thumb sucking, pacifier use, etc.). Although difficult to break, he and his team can work with you to develop methods and techniques to curb these problems before it takes a toll on your little one’s dental health. As a pediatric dentist, Dr. Benzley is trained and knowledgeable on how to care for young teeth. Earning his bachelor’s degree in economics from Brigham Young University, he went on to receive his dental degree from the University of Iowa. He completed his pediatric dental specialty certificate from the Eastman Dental Center at the University of Rochester and has finished all the requirements to be a certified Diplomate of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry. Offering high-quality dental care to young smile, he is happy to help parents and children walk through various stages of oral growth and development. To learn more, contact us at (303) 660-5373.