Why Thumb Sucking Is Bad for Kids’ Teeth

Kids do some of the cutest things. Thumb sucking can be put in that category when they are really small. If they are still sucking their thumb when they start school, however, you could have a problem on your hands.

The purpose of thumb sucking is to soothe your child. In lieu of a pacifier, it gives kids some kind of security. They can fall asleep with their thumb in their mouth. They can stop crying when hungry or upset if they put their thumb in their mouth.

It starts to become a problem when the teeth come in. At first, it may not be a problem, but once their teeth get completely through the gums, the pressure of the thumb against them can make a change – not only in the teeth but in the mouth as well.

Children don’t just suck on their thumbs; they let them rest behind the teeth. Over time, this action pushes the teeth forward in the mouth. Have you seen a child who is a chronic thumb sucker? They can have the bucktooth look where their upper teeth create a rounded and severe overbite. Even their lip moves outward to cover those teeth.

When the thumb rests against the palate on the roof of the mouth, it can work to change the shape of the mouth. When the shape of the mouth is altered, so is our pronunciation. They can have a hard time making certain sounds and being understood by others when they begin to speak. That can require the use of speech therapy to correct what has been done.

What is the result of all this? The teeth may need to have braces put on to straighten them and push them back together if gaps exist due to thumb sucking.

To avoid problems with teeth, it is important to help your child to stop sucking their thumb early on in their life. It is obviously preferable that they have stopped by the time that they start school, but to ensure the teeth come in right and there is no trouble with speech, the sooner the better.

One way to get them to stop if they are old enough to understand, is to tell them exactly what can happen. Kids don’t like to stick out and be different from their peers. Having teeth that stick out or not being able to pronounce their words can lead to teasing by other kids. Appealing to their sense of vanity as children can help them to wean themselves off of the thumb. If that doesn’t work, try using a less than tasty substance on their thumbs to train their brain to leave it alone.  Rub a garlic clove on the thumb or some Apple Cider Vinegar.  Both substances are all natural and fine for kids, most kids just don’t prefer the taste and smell.  A few days of this is really all it takes.

Thumb sucking can damage a child’s mouth if it goes on too long after their teeth have started to come in. Stopping the habit as soon as possible is the way to go.

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