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Consequences of Thumb-sucking: How Orthodontic Treatment Can Help

Nov 24 / 2017

Does your child have a finger or thumb sucking habit?

Unfortunately, when it comes to thumb sucking for too many years, it can cause lasting negative effects on the child’s dental situation.

In this blog post, we will talk about the consequences of thumb sucking and what Orthodontic treatment can do to solve it.

What problems may my child experience due to prolonged thumb-sucking?

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If your child continues sucking their thumb, there are a handful of issues that can arise. The bone or teeth position may alter the relationship between the back teeth causing something called a crossbite.

An opening could form in the front bite due to the pressure on the teeth, which prevents them from growing down into their proper positions.

An overjet, which are flared front teeth that stick out, can form due to thumb sucking. These flared teeth can also cause a larger space between the two front teeth and excessive bullying later on in life.

Frequent and intense thumb-sucking will cause misalignment of the teeth and improper development of the jaw. This can make it uncomfortable for your child to bite the top and bottom teeth together, chew and even speak.

During a consultation with Dr. James Scramstad of Align Ortho, he will review your child’s dental history. Dr. Scramstad will be able to determine if your child needs Orthodontic treatment to fix any problems that occurred during their thumb sucking phase.

How do I stop my kid from sucking their thumb?

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As a parent, it’s your duty to try and stop your little one from eventually using their thumb as a self-soothing tool. It may be cute at first while they’re sleeping, but the consequences aren’t cute later on in life!

Many children will stop sucking their thumb on their own. But, for the ones who seem to have a magnet connecting their thumb to their mouth,  there are many different techniques and methods to repel this habit. These tricks and tool depend upon the child’s developmental age and abilities.

The first thing you should do is explain to your child why they shouldn’t be sucking their thumb. Talk about the different problems it causes for other children their age. Very young children may not understand why they should stop, but still use your words to explain the reasoning, even if you don’t think you’re getting through to them.

Positive reinforcement is a great second step. A rewards system can be created and for every day your child doesn’t go to their thumb to self-soothe during quiet time, a prize or sticker can be rewarded to them.

During the night, check on your child and see if they’re sucking their thumb. If so, there’s nail polish you can put on your child’s fingers before bed, so when they go to suck on their thumbs or fingers, the gross taste will deter them, even in a half-asleep state.

For some children, you can replace the fingers with another object to soothe or comfort. These items can be a blanket or stuffed animal. This allows your child to self-soothe, but without it damaging their dental health.

Other approaches include visiting a behavioural therapist, special shirts without arm sleeves for nighttime wear, thumb guards that wrap around the thumb, or in severe cases an oral appliance that is designed to restrict the thumb sucking habit.

When should my child stop sucking their thumb?

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According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists, children should stop their sucking habits by 3 years of age, if not sooner. This is not a habit anyone should hold onto as an adult.

We know that this is the best case scenario and we also know a lot of children older than 3 still use their thumb as a soothing tool. Coming in for a consultation before the age of seven, or when the first signs of Orthodontic problems, will help Dr. Scramstad determine the issues and the best possible solutions.

What Type of Orthodontic treatment will help?

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If your child is experiencing improper teeth alignment or irregular mouth growth or development and they’re sucking their thumb, Orthodontic treatment is the best solution.

There are early Orthodontic treatment options available to treat the problems mentioned. If your preschool-aged child is sucking their thumb, it’s time to step in and start breaking it.

Contact Align Ortho to talk more about what we can do to help break the habit.  Braces can help fix Orthodontic issues that have resulted from the thumb sucking habit.

Call Align Ortho today

If you’re concerned about your child’s thumb sucking habits and how it will affect their dental health, contact Align Ortho today. We can discuss all the Orthodontic treatment options available and which one would work best for your child’s needs.

To book a consultation online, visit our website, or call (778) 403-5079.

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