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Thomas J. Skleba, DDS, FAGD

Sarah S. Brewer, DMD

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How Can Thumbsucking Affect My Child’s Teeth?

How Can Thumbsucking Affect My Child’s Teeth?

Published on July 13th, 2019

Thumbsucking is a natural habit that almost every child has at one point in time. However, prolonged thumbsucking can be detrimental to your child’s dental health. Learn more about the effects of thumbsucking and help your child break the habit with these tips from our dentist in Cary, Il. 

The Effects of Thumbsucking 

While thumbsucking can help your infant develop jaw and mouth muscles, it should not last past year five. Generally, putting fingers in your mouth allows germs to enter your body, but thumbsucking can also have more serious health effects. Thumbsucking can slowly start to push your child’s teeth around, causing an overbite or underbite. Aggressive thumbsucking can even alter your child’s jaw bone positioning. This can cause hindered speech, poor swallowing patterns and abnormal tongue rest. In severe cases, thumbsucking can shrink the airway or change the shape of the face.    

Breaking the Habit

Our dentists in Cary recommend starting these techniques as early as possible. Most parents have the best success starting before age 3.  

  • Praise your child when they are not thumbsucking instead of scolding them for bad behavior. 
  • When your child tries putting their hand in their mouth, replace them with a comfort toy or hold their hand instead. 
  • Cover their hands with socks while your child sleeps to eliminate thumbsucking at night. 
  • Children often suck their thumb when they need comfort. Focus on correcting what is causing them to feel anxious instead. 

If you need any more thumbsucking tips, contact our dentist in Cary today!

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