Thumb sucking babies look cute, don’t they? Their innocence is so irrepressible that most parents would feel overwhelmed. A toddler sticking the tiny thumb into the mouth and looking calm, is a sight to behold. All however is not that rosy with this picture-perfect habit as it might lead to health risks. Although thumb sucking may feel soothing and relaxing to a child, this does not take away the harms it poses to the body.
As the child grows, this habit generally goes away; in some cases, however, children may continue thumb sucking into late years making their parents feel all jittery about the outcome. Experts feel that hunger, stress and boredom are some of major reasons why some kids take to this habit. The real problem is when your child does not stop sucking their thumb even after reaching the age of 5-6 years. It’s recommended then to consult the dentist and seek treatment.
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Parents however can use some of these tips to make their children quit the habit of thumb sucking –
- Never punish your child for the act else he/she may feel ‘stressed’ which is also a reason for thumb sucking
- Try to distract the child as soon as they start sucking their thumb as it could help break the habit over time
- Use a reward approach where lull them into quitting with some snacks or sugar-free candies or sugar-free chocolate
- Be gentle with the child and try to make them understand the harms of the act, and wait them to grow enough to get your point
- And lastly, instill in them some fear of the act, like, tell them how sucking thumbs can cause germs to kill your teeth etc. as it works big time
Effects on thumb sucking on your child’s health
Thumb sucking is definitely a bad habit to have as it comes with some health risks as well. If persisted longer than usual, it could ruin the teeth and smile and facial aesthetic of your child over time.
Some of major effects of thumb sucking include –
- Teeth alignment problem
Thumb sucking is harmful for your child’s dental health. It could even lead to teeth alignment problems which only an orthodontists can treat. When the habit continues, chances are the teeth might get pushed around which is akin to disturbance to their natural position. With shifting teeth, there is always a risk of an overbite, an underbite or an open bite. Clearly, the so innocent-looking habit of thumb sucking can pose problem with dental functionality which is something no parents would want their children to face. It’s thus better to get your child rid of the habit and stay on top of their dental health.
- Speech difficulties
Beware if you have not been taking thumb sucking seriously because it could lead to speech difficulties in your child. The habit can impact the growth and development of teeth causing speech related side effects over time. And when teeth alignment is disturbed, some sound distortion will always be the end result. More so, if thumb sucking goes on for long term, you child may lack the mature swallow as their tongue thrust gets impacted. This is how some letter and sounds may get impacted leading to speech problems in your child. A lips can also be the result when the habit of thumb sucking is not stopped early.
- Jaw development issues
Teeth are not the only casualty when you child has the habit of thumb sucking. There may even be an effect to the jaw bone positioning. Dentists warn against sucking thumb as it could impact the development of your child’s jaw. And when the jaw is not properly or fully developed, it could ruin the facial smile eventually leaving your child with a compromised smile. Jaw problems are always serious in nature and if not treated early, they may require only a surgery to get fixed. So, it’s always better to notice thumb sucking habit at an early stage and stop your child from harming their jaw in future.
- Infection risk
Thumb sucking children at more at risk for infections than the rest. Their risk is due to continue exposure of the mouth to germs and bacteria. Since the thumb is always exposed, it easily gets in contact with air-borne germs and disease-causing bacteria. And if your child is in the habit of sucking the gum, they may be required antibiotics earlier than the rest. As a parent, you should this try to get the child quit the habit to minimize risk of bacterial diseases. Only this can ensure health benefits to the child for sure.
Clearly, thumb sucking is not as innocuous a habit as most parents might believe. If your kid has continued on with the habit for more time than it’s normal, you should then consult the best dentist in queens New York to seek remedy or treatment. With this, you can expect total dental health to your child.