Dental Care Tips For People Of All AgesDental Care Tips for People of All Ages

About Me

Dental Care Tips For People Of All Ages

Whether you came to this blog to learn about caring for your child's baby teeth or if you need information on dental implants, you'll find what you're looking for here. While we always recommend that you discuss your concerns with your dentist, our blog is an excellent starting point that can offer you immediate answers to some of your most pressing questions. This site not only provides our readers with the latest tips on dental care, but it also touches on ways in which chronic health conditions can affect your oral health. We want our readers to be well-informed dental patients and we hope we can help you do just that!



How Thumb Sucking Can Affect Your Child's Oral Health

Thumb-sucking is a very normal habit for young children to help them self-soothe. While this habit should gradually fade as your child ages, some children continue the habit for too long. Read on to learn why long-term thumb-sucking can be a problem and how a pediatric dentist can help your child correct the issue.

Why Is Thumb Sucking a Problem if It Continues Too Long?

When children suck their thumbs, it's easier for bacteria and viruses to spread in the oral cavity. Also, believe it or not, thumb sucking can actually change the shape of your child's bite and affect their jaw development. Children who still suck their thumbs after their toddler years can develop the following:

  • Overbites

  • Crossbites

  • Impacted or crowded teeth

  • Narrowed palate and jaw arches

Your child may need orthodontic treatment later on to correct these types of issues.

Thumb sucking can also encourage tongue thrusting. Tongue thrusting, or immature swallowing, is a dysfunctional muscle pattern where the tongue protrudes forward when your child swallows instead of against the palate. Thumb sucking can perpetuate tongue thrusting since children with narrower arches and overbites may have a harder time swallowing normally when eating or talking. Tongue thrusting can then lead to problems like teeth grinding, sleep apnea, and nasal blockages.

How Can a Pediatric Dentist Help?

Pediatric dental specialists understand which oral health issues are specific to children and how to fix them. Your dentist can examine your child's jaws and bite to see if the thumb sucking habit is detrimental. If your dentist catches the issue early, they may prescribe an orthodontic appliance, like a palatal crib.

Palatal cribs are similar in appearance to retainers. Instead of having an acrylic piece that rests against the palate, these appliances have curled wires that are cemented behind the incisors. When your child goes to suck his or thumb, they won't be able to because the wires on the crib will make it impossible to do so.

If your child's face shape has already changed due to thumb sucking, your dentist may recommend space maintainers or expanders. Space maintainers are appliances that prevent teeth from crowding and save space for incoming adult teeth. Expanders can widen the palate so your child can avoid tongue thrusting.

What Can You Do as a Parent?

If your dentist doesn't think a palatal crib would work, then you may want to get deterrent medications that can be safely placed on your child's fingernails.

If you haven't already, start weaning your child off of pacifiers as the puckering motion that affects children's jaws and teeth is similar to thumb sucking. You may want to set up a reward system, like a sticker chart, to help your child break his or her thumb sucking habit.

For more information about how thumb sucking may affect your child's oral health, talk to pediatric dental specialists in your area.