Is Thumb-Sucking Dangerous?

Friday, August 23, 2019
 
Thumb-sucking is a normal behavior for young children. It is a reflex that calms them and causes them to feel more secure, and it could even help them sleep. But, if it continues for too long, the habit can cause numerous dental problems.
As adult teeth are taking the place of the primary teeth, thumb-sucking can disrupt the general growth of the mouth, including teeth-alignment. It can also cause unhealthy changes in the roof of the mouth.
Most children cease sucking their thumbs at the point adult teeth emerge—somewhere between ages two and four. Those who continue to suck their thumbs past this age are at a higher risk for damage.
Another factor that determines whether or not damage will occur is how much force the child uses when sucking their thumb. Children who suck their thumbs with ferocity will have more dental issues than those who simply stick their thumb in their mouth. In fact, children who suck their thumbs intensely have been known to develop issues before the emergence of their permanent teeth.

Here are some ways to get your children to stop sucking their thumbs:

• Find and eliminate the cause of anxiety which is making them want to suck their thumb in the first place.
• Give your child praise for not thumb-sucking.
• Ask Dr. Lechner to explain the risks and offer advice.
If you see that your child is still sucking his or her thumb beyond the emergence of their adult teeth, and you aren't able to correct the issue yourself, it's a wise idea to schedule an appointment with Dr. Lechner—before issues arise.

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