Quality Pediatric Dental Care in Amarillo, TX

At Children's Dentistry of Amarillo, we believe every child deserves to grow up with a beautiful, healthy smile. As a leading pediatric dentist serving patients throughout the great Amarillo, TX area, we strive to take a comprehensive approach to treatment that focuses on the development of your child's smile in the long term. We're proud to offer a wide variety of pediatric dental treatments to handle any dental issue your child experiences – including prolonged thumb sucking.

Is Thumb Sucking a Problem?

We know what you're thinking: isn't thumb sucking a perfectly normal habit? Since when is it a dental problem?

Sucking on a thumb or another finger is, in fact, completely normal for infants and babies. The sucking reflex is a natural instinct, and many babies get comfort from sucking on a thumb or finger. However, if a child continues sucking their thumb for too long, it can cause problems. If thumb sucking continues past age 4, it can interfere with the development of their smile, causing an orthodontic problem called an open bite.

The Dangers of Thumb Sucking

Prolonged thumb sucking – generally defined as thumb sucking that continues past the age of 4 – can lead to a condition called openbite, which occurs when the upper and lower front teeth don't meet when the mouth is closed. Instead, the front teeth jut forward, leaving an open space between the teeth when the mouth is closed. Openbite is a significant orthodontic problem that can cause a wide range of negative effects, including:

  • Speech impediments
  • Difficulty chewing and swallowing
  • Pain when chewing
  • Uneven tooth wear
  • TMJ problems

Treating Prolonged Thumb Sucking

Open bite is something that's always best to avoid, and thankfully, there are a variety of options for helping your child break the habit of prolonged thumb sucking. We'd recommend trying all of the following to help your child stop their thumb sucking habit:

  • Use positive reinforcement, praising and rewarding your child when they refrain from sucking their thumb. Toys, games, or any other treats are great ways to reward your child for avoiding thumb sucking.
  • Don't punish or scold a child for thumb sucking, as this increases anxiety and makes the urge to suck a thumb even stronger.
  • Identify the times during the day when your child is most likely to suck their thumb, then try distracting them during these periods to prevent thumb sucking.
  • Use a band-aid or something similar to cover up the thumb and act as a reminder to stop thumb sucking
  • Talk with your child and explain the dangers that prolonged thumb sucking can cause.

For most children, it doesn't take much to break the habit of thumb sucking – but if you are having trouble, your Amarillo pediatric dentist can help. We offer convenient, comfortable oral appliances that can break the thumb sucking habit effortlessly – so schedule an appointment today!

Schedule an Appointment with Your Amarillo Kids Dentist

Prolonged thumb sucking can cause serious problems, but thankfully, it's easy to treat through positive reinforcement or through pediatric dental care. Contact us today if you have more questions about breaking this habit, and if you'd like to learn more about how pediatric dental treatment can help, feel free to request a consultation online. We can't wait to hear from you, and we wish you luck in breaking the habit of thumb sucking and safeguarding your child's dental health!