The parents of many young children might recognize thumb sucking as an annoying habit that toddlers eventually outgrow. However, what Moms and Dads may not realize is that the relatively common habit can potentially yield several side effects impacting dental health. Fortunately, however, parents might also be able to employ certain method geared towards preventing or ceasing the act of thumb sucking.
The Side Effects Of Thumb Sucking
Children who suck their thumbs for extended durations, especially after age five or six (when they begin losing baby teeth and developing permanent ones) might be stricken with a condition that is medically referred to as dental malocclusion. In simpler terms, this means that the crucial oral components are moved out of position. These bad alignments can occur both the top and bottom front teeth (a condition known as open bite) and in the upper front choppers (referred to as overbite).
Not only do can these problems cause noticeable oral deformities but might also lead to issues affecting how the child’s face is shaped and said individual’s ability to smile. Should either of these conditions progress, impacted young persons might need corrective measures such as the installation of braces or be forced to undergo orthodontic work. To understand the full potential side effects of thumb sucking, ask your 3V Dental dentist how you can help prevent thumb sucking with your child.
Thumb sucking has the potential to impact the proper formation of an affected child’s jaw (TMJ), tongue and palate. Eventually, the habit may result in lisping or other speech challenges that could precipitate speech and communications difficulties. In certain instances, speech problems could also result in scholastic struggles or social problems.
Long-standing thumb sucking could produce significant skin issues on the digit the child routinely places into said individual’s mouth. Continued exposure to the moisture created by saliva on the thumb in question could eventually cause skin sensitivities or damage such as cracked skin, sores and bleeding. Should skin problems progress, the child may be at an increased risk of developing skin infections that will require antibiotic treatment.
Increased Risk Of Mouth Or Other Bodily Infections
The skin on a child’s thumb might become exposed to toxins such as microbial elements and allergens that may eventually result in infections within the mouth or in other bodily regions.
How Can Parents Prevent Or Stop Thumb Sucking
Do Not Punish The Child Or Take An Aggressive Stance
Though the habit may be frustrating for parents to deal with, said individuals should not forcefully attempt to prevent their offspring from engaging in the activity, not should they yell or exhibit any other type of aggressive behavior. Such actions are more likely to cause increased tension and could even cause a young person to perform the habit more often.
Identify The Reasons The Child Engages In The Habit To Start With
On some occasions, children may suck their thumbs as a means of coping with stressful situations. If parents are able to identify what these tension-inducing circumstances are, said individuals might also be able to prevent their children from engaging in the activity.
Distract The Child’s Attention
When a parent notices their offspring engaging in the habit, some dentists recommend quickly attempting to distract their attention by giving said youths their favorite toy or turning their attention to some other kind of activity.
Cover The Child’s Thumb
A parent might find success covering the thumb or hands of the child in question with an item such as a sock or Band-Aid. This might be particularly effective for children known to suck their thumbs while sleeping.
Apply A Bitter-Tasting Medication Or Substance To The Child’s Thumb
If all other measures prove unsuccessful, parents might appeal to their dentists or family physicians who might prescribe a bitter-tasting substance that can be applied to the finger in question.
3V Dental is your local Port Washington dental team. For more information on how you can prevent or stop your child’d thumb sucking habit, schedule an appointment to speak with your dentist today. We’re more than happy to help!