Why Prolonged Thumb Sucking is a Bad Idea

Child sucks thumbSanta Cruz, Scotts Valley CA

Even though thumb sucking is a normal reaction for newborns and toddlers that may start while the baby’s in the womb, doing so for an extended period can cause a variety of oral health issues. At Ebrahimian Integrative Dentistry, our goal is for your young one to have a healthy and happy childhood, complete with a dazzling smile that lasts a lifetime. If your child is five or older and they’re still sucking their thumb, it may harm their dental development. So, our Scotts Valley family dentists share on the blog today why prolonged thumb sucking is a bad idea and what you can do to prevent it.

Possible Dental Issues

Both thumb-sucking and pacifier use for extended periods may lead to dental issues because they cause the teeth to become crooked. Additionally, sucking the thumb might result in a disorder known as malocclusion, which is a misalignment of the top and lower teeth that prevents them from fitting together correctly. Our family dentists in Santa Cruz state that untreated malocclusion may ultimately result in problems eating or speaking, which can contribute to developmental delays. Malocclusion can also cause irregular jaw growth, which could cause a narrow upper palate, open mouth posture, mouth breathing, and restricted or narrow airways. To decrease the risk of developing dental issues later in life, it’s best to kick the habit as soon as possible.

How to Break the Habit

Changing a habit that begins naturally can be challenging, but it’s possible. Through gentle reminders and regular visits to see our Los Gatos family dentists, we can work together to help your child break the habit and encourage proper oral development.

When it comes to getting rid of your child’s thumb-sucking habit, you may find the following advice beneficial:

  • If you observe your child engaging in the activity, try to dissuade them kindly. Remind your child to stop sucking their thumb in a calm and collected manner.
  • It’s important to provide your child with positive reinforcement when they aren’t sucking their thumb. For example, you may reward excellent conduct by doing something like reading an additional story before bed or giving them extra snuggle time.
  • Make a plan with detailed milestones and times for completion. It’s essential to have patience and be persistent while attempting to curb a child’s habit because changing their behavior may take some time.
  • Look for triggers. When they’re anxious, some youngsters soothe themselves by sucking their thumbs. After you discover the triggers, we can continue to address the actual problem more effectively.

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

In some cases, thumb-sucking ceases before children start school. However, some children continue sucking their thumbs as they become older. Unfortunately, this prolonged activity can have a detrimental impact on your child’s oral development and overall health. Fortunately, our family dentists in Scotts Valley at Ebrahimian Integrative Dentistry have the knowledge and experience to correct the problem early so that your child can experience regular oral development and a healthier smile. If your child sucks their thumb and you struggle with getting them to stop, we strongly recommend that you schedule an appointment with us so that we may examine their mouth. If your child has already suffered the long-term effects of thumb sucking, speak with us about how we can help get their orofacial development back on track. Please call (831) 438-4411 or contact us online to request an appointment.