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Thumb sucking is a common bad habit started during the infant stages for most people. Thumb sucking usually starts after birth, but it is often found that infants will begin this habit while still in the womb. Interesting enough- infants suck their thumbs due to their survival instinct. They relate it back to feeding (sucking milk) and it becomes a comfort for them. Though this habit seems adoringly cute, it can cause many oral problems and worst-case scenario- speech problems, if not stopped at an early age.

Potential Problems From Thumb Sucking:

  • Could cause misalignment of teeth as they start growing in. Though their baby teeth will remain, their adult teeth are permanent and need proper room to grow.
  • Narrows the dental arches in their mouths.
  • Could cause damage to the roof of their palate, which can lead to speech problems.
  • Could reshape the jawbone. As they suck on their thumbs, they are pulling their upper jaw forward and pushing their lower jaw backwards. This cancause an overbite
  • Infection of thumbnail.
  • Increased oral infections due to sticking their thumbs in their mouth constantly.
  • Additional increased infections due to bacteria

Children will usually stop thumb sucking on their own around the age of one, due to becoming busier with more interactions and bonding more with their surroundings. In extreme cases, a child will continue to suck their thumbs until they are around five years old or older. In this case, it is very important to address the manner, as it could be a result of stress. Addressing it sooner than later will not only save their teeth right as their adult teeth are getting ready to mature, it can also help you understand if there are outside stresses causing the habit to continue.

How to Correct Thumb Sucking:

In most cases, parents will reprimand their children about the habit, which only causes them to do it more due to stress. Children relate thumb sucking to comfort, so getting them involved with their surroundings more and being gentle on the topic will bring reassurance to them that it is okay to stop the habit. Below are common approaches parents have taken to get rid of the thumb sucking habits.

  • Try to find the cause of the habit. Figuring out if it is something done casually or more often will help you to determine how to approach the issue with your child.
  • Confront your child in a loving manner to make them feel comfortable, but let them also know that the habit is not good for them.
  • Offer a reward for not sucking their thumbs. This can be as easy as stickers or fun stamps. Make a board for them to keep getting rewards to reach a goal.

Thumb sucking is very common and easy to cure. It all starts with your approach and rebuilding comfort with other activities. Working with your child early can help them resolve emotional issues that normally start young as they enter into their early years and also save their teeth from future issues and discomfort. In addition to the above suggestions, it is always a great idea to speak with your professional Alpharetta dentist about dental advice to help overcome problems as your children grow older.

Feel free to contact our Alpharetta location today for additional information. Our professional dental staff is always here to help assist you in any way.