Thumb-Sucking

baby-sucking-her-thumbWe at Children’s Dentistry of Amarillo are proud to be your premier choice when you’re looking for a kid’s dentist. As yourAmarillo pediatric dentist and dental team, we want to help set your child on the path toward a lifetime of healthy smiles. However, this isn’t something that’s solely accomplished through dental treatments. Regular care must be taken to ensure a child’s healthy smile, including watching what habits he or she performs. One of these habits that you should be wary about is thumb sucking, an entirely normal habit that most infants perform.

Why Is This Problematic?

As we mentioned, sucking on a thumb or another finger is completely normal for babies; this habit will actually soothe them! However, if this continues after the age of about three or four, this can begin to create bite problems. A normal bite will have the upper teeth growing in and slightly overlapping the lower teeth. However, when a child constantly puts pressure of the thumb (or another finger) in his or her mouth, this can often interfere with normal tooth eruption and jaw growth. In many cases, this can cause an orthodontic problem that’s known as an open bite.

The Dangers of an Open Bite

An open bite is a condition where the teeth don’t overlap when a person bites down; there’s actually an open space between the upper and lower teeth where his or her tongue can fit through. This can be harmful to a child’s well-being because of the following reasons:

  • An open bite can cause speech problems for your child.
  • It can also make eating more difficult; simply preventing food or liquid from escaping when swallowing can occasionally present problems.
  • Even the basic act of chewing can cause pain in some cases of open bite.
  • The back teeth are likely to wear down much faster because the majority of the contact points between the upper and lower teeth are located there.

How You Can Help Stop Your Child’s Thumb Sucking

Some of our recommendations for helping your child stop his or her thumb sucking habit are as follows:

  • Praise and reward your child for not sucking his or her thumb. This reward can be a toy, a treat, a game, or virtually anything else that your child would enjoy. Don’t punish or scold your child for thumb sucking – be positive instead!
  • Figure out when the times are that your child begins thumb sucking and attempt to distract him or her during these likely periods where the bad habit will occur.
  • Be open about the situation with your child and describe what happens if the thumb sucking continues.
  • Cover up the thumb with a band-aid or something similar to help your child to remember not to suck his or her thumb.
  • If all else fails, please don’t hesitate to come to your Amarillo pediatric dentist for help. As your trusted source of pediatric dentistry, we also provide habit appliances that can curb this bad habit.

Visit Your Amarillo Pediatric Dentist!

If your child has problems with thumb sucking, feel free to get in touch with us to schedule an appointment with your kid’s dentist. You can reach us by phone at (806) 351-0008 or you can fill out our online appointment request form. We’re looking forward to seeing you!