How Thumb-Sucking Affects Your Child’s Dental Health

As a parent, you want your child to grow healthy without acquiring any habit that might affect their development. One habit that’a putting your child’s dental health at risk is thumb sucking.

Thumb sucking or finger sucking is completely normal for infants. It’s a natural reflex that often exhibits in an infant. It’s a behavior often seen in the womb during a child’s development. This type of involuntary reflex gives babies the comfort that he needs, as he or she develops inside the uterus.

Experts even say that it’s an early form of coping mechanism, especially when babies and toddlers feel anxious or gets separated from their parents. Coincidentally, it also helps the baby fall asleep much better.

How long is thumb sucking acceptable?

Most children stop thumb sucking on their own. It usually happens when they reach the ages between two and four. But there is a child who tends to revert to their behavior when they feel stressed.

The best time to start discouraging thumb sucking is by the time they become four. Once they reach this age, prolonged and continuous thumb-sucking could start affecting your child’s mouth. It can soon begin to change the way their jaws and teeth develop, causing permanent damage in the future.

If your child subconsciously does it, then there’s a chance that you’ll find it easier to discourage it. But if they vigorously do it, then it can affect their palate as well as their permanent bite. Once that happens, it’ll be more difficult to stop the behavior without intervention from a kids’ dentist in Herriman.

little girl with bear thumbsucking

How to discourage this kind of behavior?

Mayo Clinic says that it’s best to speak with your child about thumb sucking. Doing so help you become more successful in stopping the habit from progressing. Also, try to use positive reinforcement as often as you can. You can either praise your child for consciously not sucking their thumb or give them pure rewards like a trip to the park for practicing good behavior.

Another way to discourage them with thumb-sucking is by identifying the possible trigger. If you notice that your child suck his or her thumb when they feel stressed, then it’s best to identify the causes of their stress. Once you’ve identified it, give them a hug or other reassuring words. You can also give them a stuffed animal so they can have something to hug or squeeze whenever they feel stressed.

Expect that there will be times when their behavior will regress. When this happens, offer them a few gentle reminders about their behavior. Don’t try to scold or ridicule your child as this may affect their behavior.

If you’re concerned about the effects of thumb-sucking, then it’s best to consult your dentist about it. If the habit continues after they reach the age of five, it will soon affect their dental growth, which can cause them to misalign their teeth. So, the sooner that you help them get rid of the habit, the better the chance that their bite will naturally correct itself.

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