Lollipop for sucking, thumbs for affirming

Were you used to sucking your thumb as a kid? How were you able to quit it? Thumb sucking seems harmless when you’re six to twelve months, but it might already be problematic at five or early in your teenage years. It’s not the type of emotional management you should be cultivating.

Unlike toddlers, we don’t have calming devices like pacifiers and teethers to relax. Study shows that excessive thumb sucking has potentially adverse effects on your teeth if not broken as a habit. Thumbs should be for stamping or affirming. Read on to know why prolonged thumb sucking can lead to future complications.

Dental malocclusion

Dental experts regard this as a permanent adverse effect. Dental malocclusion is a condition wherein there is misalignment from the front to the back of your teeth. It’s categorized into three types. Type 3 would already show an abnormal upper arch angled towards the tongue.

Since your teeth aren’t aligned properly, you develop crooked teeth and poor bite wherein you cannot close your mouth entirely.

Malocclusion can either result in an open bite or an overbite. An open bite is present when the upper and lower front teeth become oriented outwards. An overbite‌ means that the upper teeth conceal the lower teeth.

Overlapping teeth can hinder the proper placement of metal braces, so it’s sometimes beneficial to supplement treatments with headgear and other oral devices.

Treating misalignment

It’s common for orthodontists to correct malocclusion, especially the severe type, with braces to straighten and enhance your smile. However, some kids might not be comfortable with metal braces as sometimes the archwire joined through the brackets can get loose, or it’s the brackets that loosen and fall.

The teeth shift usually causes this or when kids don’t have time for that next dental appointment to readjust and replace the braces.

Another remedy is Invisalign treatment which appears as clear aligners and brace alternatives. This straightening treatment is recommended for teeth that aren’t as crooked. They fix faster than braces, too. Find a doctor and have your smile assessed.

In some instances, jaw issues are inherited, so oral surgery can correct them. Jaw and midface dislocations and fractures that cause malocclusion are also targeted.

Oral Infection

Your hands come in contact with almost everything, from food to the toilet. Sometimes, we forget to wash properly when we’re in a rush. Thumb sucking can introduce foreign objects into the mouth, including dirt and bacteria that can cause a gum and teeth infection.

Part of your overall hygiene should be an alcohol or hand sanitizer, mouthwash, clean toothbrush, clean sink, and surrounding areas.

You could also pay a visit to your trusted dentist in Arizona for dental cleaning and tooth extractions for serious cases of oral infection.

Speech Impediments

Thumb sucking may result in lisping and difficulty pronouncing hard consonants. Because it disturbs tooth formation, it can lead to stuttering and speech delays.

To learn the correct speech sounds, tongue placement is key. The tongue tip passes through the front teeth at times, so ‘s’ has an after hiss sound.

Your tongue is the main taste organ moving, but the teeth regulate it. Prolonged thumb sucking causes teeth misalignment, which leads to inappropriate resting tongue placement. A tongue thrust can push the teeth outward in an overbite that also contributes to speech problems.

Social Drawbacks

Like speech problems, thumb-sucking can lead to people judging your child, especially when at the age expected to stop. Parents shouldn’t dismiss it as an early sign of a psychological or developmental problem.

Aside from recommending the best procedure for your child’s dental problems, a dental professional can also determine the underlying cause of a child’s recurring behavior. They elicit responses from kids in a light-hearted manner.

Seeking help from a pediatrician or dentist gives you the added assurance that your child will also be able to interact with other people who don’t deride or mock their situation.

As a guardian, consult doctors who specialize in family dentistry. Meet your Chandler dentist while updating yourself on the latest treatment approaches in orthodontics and dental care. 

Breaking the habit 

When your child is past four, it’s time to break the habit of thumb sucking. Instead of negative reinforcement, you can discipline them through healthy incentives. You don’t have to condition them that there’s a matching reward for every good behavior. You got to make them earn it while also explaining to them gently the need to stop sucking their thumbs

Supposedly, thumb sucking is a way for children to relieve stress and calm down from crying. Needless to say, going for the corporal approach can even worsen their thumb-sucking habit.

Some common healthy reinforcements include using a stuffed toy to feel safe and comfortable. Observe patterns and factors that cause the thumb-sucking behavior. A child might have trouble sleeping at night because he/she got used to being cradled, or there’s something unsettling in their new crib.

Playing them lullabies or reading a storybook can put them to sleep, especially when it’s way past their bedtime.

Remember that your child doesn’t see a problem with sucking their thumbs and does not notice they’re doing it. Be vigilant and discourage them without scaring them before developing a habit.

Additional tip to minimize thumb sucking: 

Many of what we have discussed are treatments to the effects of thumb-sucking. Breaking the habit and reinforcing healthy behaviors also mean resolving the root cause of the problem. 

It’s wise to consult your dental professional to reduce the routine. They may prescribe a mild medication, thumb sucking guard, or for worse-case scenarios, a dental apparatus to discourage thumb-sucking

When it concerns the betterment of your child, consider their comfort always. It’s a gradual process that should be accompanied by forethought and research. If you’re a parent, you must find new ways for your little ones to regulate their emotions.