The Dangers of Thumb Sucking

Many, if not most, babies and young children go through a thumb sucking stage at some point. Thumb sucking makes children feel safe and secure, so it makes sense that they gravitate towards sucking their thumb when they’re worried, anxious, or even bored. Most dentists tell parents that children should stop sucking their thumb by the time they turn 5. At Sunshine Smiles, we feel that age 3 is the time to gently encourage your child to stop the habit of thumb sucking. If children give up the habit early enough, it won’t cause long term issues. However, continued thumb sucking can result in some serious problems.

Misalignments and Thumb Sucking

When the adult teeth start to emerge, misalignments are a serious risk for thumb suckers. Thumb sucking, particularly vigorous thumb sucking, can force the teeth outward, moving them towards the lips to create a “buck toothed” appearance over time. Thumb sucking can also cause teeth gaps and even damage to the gums because it forces the teeth out of their usual alignment. Correcting teeth problems caused by thumb sucking can be quite time consuming and expensive. It’s always best for parents to make an effort to curtail thumb sucking as early as possible to prevent these types of issues.

Speech Problems and Thumb Sucking

When teeth are not in their proper places, speech problems may develop. Once the speech problems start, even correcting the position of the teeth won’t be enough to restore proper speech. Speech therapy will often be needed to learn proper speech patterns. Children with speech problems often suffer from shyness, embarrassment, and other social issues, but this can often be avoided simply by stopping thumb sucking early enough.

The Importance of Early Dental Visits

The toddler years are an especially important time for dental visits because these visits are a good chance for both parents and children to learn about good oral health care. With regular dental visits and close monitoring of thumb sucking, children can grow up healthy, happy, and with a beautiful smile. Call anytime to arrange an appointment!