The Long Term Effects of Thumbsucking

In Blog, Dental Care, Dental Health by Scott

Tribeca Thumbsucking Effects | Upper East Side Dentist

Upper East Side DentistThumbsucking is a natural and comforting reflex for children. It’s something that starts while they are still in the womb, and can continue through toddlerhood. When a baby puts its fingers or thumb in their mouth, it gives them a sense of security and happiness.  During times of stress, in goes the thumb as a built in comfort device that is always on hand.  Thumbsucking also helps kids fall asleep, and offers comfort when tired or in an unfamiliar environment.  

If the situation persists, however, it can have long-term consequences to your child’s oral health.  It can have an effect on teeth, gums, jaws, and even facial form.  It can cause what is known as a skeletal open bite.  This can sometimes self-correct, but it also can lead to expensive orthodontic work to correct the teeth and align the jaws.  The problem should be corrected while the child is growing, otherwise jaw surgery could be required in the future.

If your child hasn’t stopped sucking their thumb by ages two to four years old, there are steps you can take to help him or her kick the habit.  Giving plenty of praise for not sucking, taking away the source of the child’s anxiety, and having your dentist talk to your child about the effects of thumb sucking can help.  You can also put a bandage on the thumb or sock on the hand at night.  Your dentist or doctor can also prescribe a medication that has a bitter taste to help them stop. If you are concerned about thumbsucking, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with our Upper East Side Dental Office today.