Thumb Sucking

Thumb Sucking

Thumb Sucking pediatric dentist jersey city NJThumb sucking is a common habit that develops in babies and toddlers as a form of pacification. Sucking a thumb can be used as a comfort mechanism that serves to make a child feel more secure. Unfortunately, it’s also an unhealthy habit that can continue on into the later years of a child’s life and lead to unintended consequences.

According to dentists, thumb sucking usually stops between the ages of two and four. However, it can sometimes continue into your children’s primary school years. Peer pressure from other children at school tends to halt thumb sucking in older, kindergarten-aged kids. Thumb sucking really doesn’t cause serious problems until the child’s adult, or permanent, teeth come in.

Why They Do It

The reasons for thumb sucking vary among kids. For some, it’s environmental, provoked by stressors in the home. For others, it may be learned behavior or a substitution when a pacifier is taken away. Children may be presenting early signs of inherited tendencies when they turn to soothers like their thumbs. Some of the more common reasons for thumb sucking — as seen by Dr. Mila Cohen of True Dental Care for Kids & Teens on a regular basis — include:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Boredom
  • Fatigue
  • Relief from sore gums

Researchers have discovered that many babies start sucking their thumbs before they even leave the womb. Thumb sucking may be a way to relieve stress — a bad habit inherited from parents, much like alcoholism, gambling and smoking. Other ways that anxious children exhibit self-destructive addictions include:

  • Hair pulling
  • Nail biting
  • Fighting
  • Overeating
  • Hair twisting

Harm from Thumb Sucking

Permanent teeth start coming in around the age of five. Your New Jersey kids dentist will warn you that if your children continue the habit to this age, they may develop serious dental problems, such as an abnormal bite. Thumb sucking can also create speech impediments with certain sounds, like an “S” sound. When the habit is finally stopped, you may have two common problems to address:

  1. Orthodontic care. Dental fixtures may need to be made for your child’s mouth to pull the teeth back into alignment.
  2. Speech therapy. You may also have to go through the process of improving your child’s speech.

When your child sucks his thumb — because of the way it’s positioned — the thumb forces up against the inside of the upper front teeth. This causes an overbite, which can lead to buck teeth. The pressure also causes the upper jaw to narrow, so the top and bottom teeth don’t meet properly. The pressure of the thumb can force the lower teeth to lean towards the tongue as well.

When the cheek muscles work while a child sucks his thumb, this also causes the mouth to narrow. Thumb sucking damages the finger too, especially the skin of the thumb, creating calluses and other skin disorders. As children grow, their mouths and teeth are growing as well, but if they continue the habit of sucking their thumb, the teeth are forced to grow around it.

How to Stop Thumb Sucking

When a child sucks his thumb, it’s often due to anxiety. He sucks his thumb in lieu of other forms of coping. Your New Jersey kids dentist is trained to spot potential problems from thumb sucking and provide you with tips to help your kids grow out it. These tips may include:

  • Use a pacifier for infants and babies. A pacifier is much easier to control than thumb sucking yet causes less damage.
  • Don’t demand that your child stop immediately. Instead, coax him into being comfortable with himself. Avoid using a forceful tone of voice. Don’t insist on punishment — this doesn’t work and creates a negative atmosphere for the child.
  • Instead of degrading your child when he’s sucking his thumb, praise him when he’s not. Praise may even consist of offering rewards like extra cartoon time or a trip to the park.
  • Remind girls that it’s not good to suck their thumbs when they’re wearing nail polish. Tell boys and girls about the dangers of sucking their thumbs when wearing a bandage.
  • Make sure your kids know that their classmates won’t understand. Going to school helps kids quit thumb sucking. Thumb sucking at school is considered uncommon and “baby-like.”
  • Suggest other ways for your kids to find comfort. Talk to your New Jersey childrens dentist for ideas.
  • Lovingly and quietly point it out to your kids when they happen to be sucking their thumb without even realizing it.
  • Don’t prevent your child from sucking her thumb in a dire situation; it will only worsen an already tense situation. He may even become traumatized if he doesn’t have another source of comfort available.
  • Don’t use supplements that create a bad flavor in your child’s mouth when he sucks his thumb. It’s not giving him an opportunity to solve the problem on his own. If you prevent him from sucking his thumb by placing a glove on his hand, it only creates more anxiety. Kids have the ability to figure out your tactics and find ways to thwart your efforts anyway.

Fixing the Damage

As thumb sucking persists, talking to your New Jersey childrens dentist about what to do for your child should be your first approach. Most times, if the teeth are consistently moved, orthodontic care is recommended. Teeth braces for kids are one of the best remedies for fixing teeth that have been damaged by constant thumb sucking.

There are also certain appliances specifically made to improve the teeth from the harmful effects of thumb sucking. One such appliance is the “fixed palatal crib.” Made of wires in a semicircular shape, the fixed palatal crib is placed behind your child’s upper teeth on the roof of the mouth, fastened to the molars. It’s. The crib’s job is to halt the habit of thumb sucking.

Mila Cohen may also recommend the use of a retainer, which is a plastic, removable device. A retainer has many uses, one of which is to potentially stop the habit. The retainer causes a change of environment in the child’s mouth and even becomes a satisfactory distraction that your child can entertain himself with instead of sucking his thumb.