Here's Why Thumb-Sucking Is Bad for Teeth and Should Stop

Is your child a thumbsucker? Are they still sucking their thumb after age 2? How do you stop thumb-sucking? What is the effect of thumb-sucking on teeth? 

Parents often have questions about their child’s thumb-sucking habits, especially if they notice changes in their child’s teeth. Thumb-sucking is bad for your child’s teeth, with long-term effects that could cause more problems as they age. It can cause them to develop a bad bite, including an overbite, an open bite, or crooked teeth. 

Shoe Orthodontics can help you help your child to break the habit of being a thumb sucker. We can also help restore your child’s teeth to normal after the thumb-sucking has caused damage. 

Is Thumbsucking Normal?

Don’t be surprised if your child begins sucking their thumb at a young age. The National Institute of Health says about half of the children in the United States suck their thumbs, with some not stopping until they’re nearly 4 years old. 

Pacifier use also happens during this time. The NIH reports that up to 85% of children use a pacifier early in their infancy through up to 4 years of age. Some children who lose their pacifier privileges will move to sucking their thumbs instead. 

How Does Thumbsucking Affect Teeth? 

Thumbsucking can be bad for your child’s developing teeth. It can be worse as the person ages. This is why we recommend that your child stop sucking their thumb or using a pacifier by age 2. 

Sucking the thumb causes the palate (roof of the mouth) to become deformed, and the pressure of the hand can move the teeth outward. This can cause an overbite, an open bite, and even crooked teeth. It can also cause the jaws to develop misshapen.  

These are just a few of the many dental problems thumbsucking can cause. It means that your child may need orthodontic treatment to fix problems caused by thumb-sucking.

How Do I Stop My Child From Thumb-Sucking? 

Shoe Orthodontics can work with you to help your baby stop sucking their thumb. We can also help teenage and adult patients stop sucking their thumbs. That’s right — thumbsucking happens in older patients, too. 

One home remedy people suggest is to coat the child’s thumb in something they don’t like, like garlic, lemon, or something bitter. Just be sure it’s non-toxic! You can also try covering your child’s hands at night with gloves or socks. 

Remember, positive reinforcement brings the best results. Talk to your child about stopping the habit, and try something different if they continue to suck their thumb. 

If this doesn’t work, Shoe Orthodontics has appliances that can stop your child from sucking their thumb. 

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What Are Thumb-Sucking Appliances?

Removable and non-removable appliances can be placed in your child’s mouth to prevent them from sucking their thumbs. These appliances attach to the back teeth and circle to the front. 

Several types of appliances prevent thumbsucking. One type uses a “rake” that prevents your child from holding the thumb in their mouth. A tongue crib does a similar thing but with a little basket in the front to keep the tip of the tongue away from the teeth. These are just two types of appliances that can help your child stop sucking their thumb. 

We will work with you and your child to find the best appliance to break their thumb-sucking habit. 

How Do I Repair My Child’s Teeth After Thumbsucking?

Shoe Orthodontics can repair the damage from thumbsucking with braces. Our braces treatment can fix many dental issues, including overbites or open bites. We also have treatment with Invisalign and 3M Clarity clear aligners. 

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that your child be evaluated by an orthodontist by age 7. We can examine your child to determine how much damage has been done from the thumbsucking and whether your child will need braces to correct it. 

We may recommend your child have two-phase braces. We start with Phase I braces by correcting your child’s teeth at a younger age and start reshaping their jaws, getting them back to where they need to be. The Phase II braces are put on later when most permanent teeth come in. Those braces concentrate on correcting crooked teeth and the bad bite not fixed with the first phase. 

Thumbsucking Treatment in Hanover, PA

Your child needs to break their thumbsucking habit before it damages their teeth. Shoe Orthodontics can work with you both to find the best solution. We can also fix any damage already done by prolonged thumb-sucking. 
You can contact us for a free consultation in the Hanover, PA, or Reisterstown, MD, areas. We will work with you to help your child grow into the smile of their dreams!

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