Is My Child’s Thumb Sucking Habit a Big Deal?

childs thumb suckingSCOTTS VALLEY, SANTA CRUZ CA

Parents often enter dental offices with concerns about their child’s thumb-sucking or pacifier use at different ages. Although it may seem to be a harmless act, the habit could cause long-term problems with the development of the child’s teeth and mouth, resulting in additional complications. Therefore, your Scotts Valley family dentists, Ebrahimian Integrative Dentistry, are sharing information on why your child’s thumb-sucking habit is a big deal, and what you can do about it.

What are the oral effects of thumb sucking?

As your child grows, their mouth is in constant development and prone to adapt to habits such as thumb sucking or pacifier use. The repetitive and vigorous motion caused by thumb sucking could affect skeletal changes of the upper dental palate (roof of the mouth), resulting in misaligned teeth. Pain and discomfort could occur as permanent teeth emerge, and your child may have an increased risk of complications that could require braces or oral surgery. Neuromuscular dentists in Los Gatos at Ebrahimian Integrative Dentistry recommend encouraging your child to cease thumb sucking before permanent damage occurs.

When is it time to stop thumb sucking?

Infants suck their thumbs as a source of comfort. However, the American Dental Association (ADA) warns parents about developmental issues if the child continues to suck their thumb or use a pacifier beyond four years of age. Prolonged thumb-sucking could lead to palate development complications and myofunctional disorders, which may result in an open mouth posture, mouth breathing, or sleep apnea. A certified myofunctional therapist in Scotts Valley can provide treatment if your child is unable to stop before turning four years old. Also, interceptive orthodontics in Santa Cruz at Ebrahimian Integrative Dentistry offers additional oral health treatments to help combat mouth breathing and sleep apnea.

How do I stop my child from sucking their thumb or using a pacifier?

Children often stop sucking their thumbs or a pacifier naturally as they age. Some parents find that their child stops the behavior when it no longer becomes a concern of the parents. Kindergarten is a typical time when children naturally stop the action as they realize their classmates do not suck their thumbs, and it is deemed socially unacceptable. If your child continues to suck their thumb beyond kindergarten, seeking professional help may be the best course to change the bad habit. Until you have an appointment with a professional, speak with your child about their thumb-sucking practices and the danger of continuing it. Also, your family dentists in Scotts Valley at Ebrahimian Integrative Dentistry could talk with your child about the importance of stopping the bad behavior and the consequences of their actions on their oral health. As your child begins to cease their thumb-sucking habit, praise their efforts, and provide a reward for breaking the habit.

Family Dentists in Los Gatos, Santa Cruz, and Scotts Valley, California

As a parent, your child’s thumb-sucking or extended pacifier use could be a concerning habit. With healthy development, discussions with the child’s healthcare provider, and the guidance of your Scotts Valley neuromuscular dentists at Ebrahimian Integrative Dentistry, your child should find success in ceasing the damaging habits of thumb sucking and pacifier use. If your child is having difficulty with thumb sucking or you need dental care to correct the detrimental effects of the bad habit, then feel free to contact us by calling (831) 438-4411 or visit our website and book an appointment online today.