The Effects of Thumb Sucking on Your Child’s Oral Health

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It is a common habit for babies and toddlers to suck on their thumb or “thumb suck”. How does this behaviour affect their teeth as they get older? Thumb sucking or finger sucking is acceptable for infants. According to the American Dental Association, it is a natural reflex for an infant that started in his mother’s womb during fetus development.

Thumb sucking is a habit that makes babies feel happy and secure. It’s a soothing feeling that allows them to explore the environment around them. It also helps them fall asleep and serves as a coping mechanism when infants or toddlers are separated from their parents. However, if this behavior goes on for more than four years of age, it can affect their dental health.

Prolonged thumb sucking can affect your child’s mouth, teeth, gums, facial form, and jaw. According to the ADA or American Dental Association, the best age to stop thumb sucking is at age four. When permanent teeth start to grow, and your child continues to thumb suck, it can lead to misaligned teeth and eventually affect your child’s permanent bite.

For healthy bite development, the upper teeth develop to overlap the lower teeth, but due to the pressure of thumb sucking, the front teeth may protrude, and your child’s bite will be open. When this skeletal open bite happens, and your child never ceases to thumb suck, it can result in permanent teeth and jaw problems.

For more information on the effects of thumb sucking, contact our dental team at Dr. Parekh and Associates in Alliston. We are here to help prevent any dental problems that can arise from thumb sucking.

– Dr. Parekh

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