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Does "Thumb Sucking" Negatively Affect the Outcome of Your Child's Teeth?

Very young children seek the comfort of sucking. And just like the many things adults turn to for comfort, there can be negative repercussions if used excessively. If the thumb sucking habit has altered the way your child’s teeth are erupting, a visit to the pediatric dentist can offer solutions.

When a child sucks their thumb they are putting continuous pressure on the roof of the mouth and the upper front teeth. During infancy and toddler years, damage to your child’s mouth and teeth is usually inconsequential. However, if the child has continued this habit to around the age of three to four, the potential for damage to teeth is present.

If the thumb sucking habit has altered the way your child’s teeth are erupting, a visit to the pediatric dentist can offer solutions.

Think of how often this action is occurring. When the child is engaging is a quiet activity like reading a book, listening to music, or watching television; during daily naps; throughout the night.

And because this is a comfort for the child, as well as a habit, it is very difficult to stop. The pediatric dentist can offer ideas that include things like a verbal reminder whenever you see your child sucking on their thumb; placing an unpleasant tasting, non-toxic substance on the thumb to discourage sucking; even putting a glove or bandage on the hand as a reminder is an option.

Explaining consequences to a four year old will not be an understood deterrent. But very young children do understand risk and reward. So if the promise of a new toy or a special treat like being able to go to the zoo seems to work, you are doing more good than harm by providing these incentives. Ultimately, you are creating motivation for both you and your child. Success in breaking this habit will possibly prevent years of orthodontic treatment when your child is a little older.

At the age of one, the child is ready for their first trip to the dentist. As your child ages, secure the help of your dental provider to praise and give honest assessment toward your child’s accomplishments as they learn to break this habit. Your child’s dental health along with a beautiful smile will be your reward.

Contact our caring dental office at (972) 218-0078 to further discuss your child’s dental health.

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