Your Child’s Thumbsucking: Should You Worry?

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Dentists in O'Fallon ILWill my child’s thumbsucking habit damage their smile? This is a frequently asked question and common concern for many parents. You may have been relieved to find that your baby could soothe himself to sleep by sucking his thumb. However, if the habit is lingering well into the toddler years, you may be getting worried. At what point should parents get serious about breaking their child’s thumbsucking habit before it impacts their smile, or their likelihood for future orthodontics?

There are a few factors that determine whether or not your child’s habit is harming their dental health. The first is age. If your child is approaching kindergarten and still frequently sucks his or her thumb, your concern is valid. At this point, they are starting to lose baby teeth. The palate can be affected and the alignment of their permanent teeth can be compromised. You may notice that your child’s front teeth are beginning to tip towards the lip.

Another big factor to consider is how hard your child is actually sucking his or her thumb. The intensity of the action corresponds directly to how much your child is at risk for dental-related problems. Does your child just loosely place the thumb against the teeth for brief moments in the day? Or does he or she aggressively suck for longer periods of time? Keep in mind that regardless of your child’s age, additional germs and bacteria are being introduced into your child’s mouth every time they engage in the habit.

If you and your dentist have decided that it is time to break the habit, there are a number of methods to try. For some parents, replacing thumbsucking with a different soothing mechanism is helpful. You can also try to talk to your child about why they are sucking their thumb, such as in times of stress or fear, and suggest other ways to cope. Your dentist can also step in to help. A special mouthguard or bitter medication that coats the thumb can put an end to the habit for many kids.

To save your child from future dental problems or time in braces, always be proactive when it comes to addressing a thumbsucking habit. At Soft Touch Dentistry, we can determine if your child’s smile is threatened and offer encouraging ways to help.

Posted on behalf of Dr. Sarah Thompson, Soft Touch Dentistry
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Soft Touch Dentistry
1214 Paragon Dr
O’Fallon, IL 62269
(618) 622-5050