Thumb sucking is an activity that young individuals enjoy because it is soothing. Suckling is a very relaxing activity for children and this helps to pacify them. When a child is quiet and resting there is peace, unfortunately, what has not realized with all the silence is the fact that thumb sucking can be very damaging to the teeth. An amount of damage is directly related to the amount the habit is practiced. Therefore, minimizing and stopping the habit as early as possible is the key to avoiding its harmful effects!
The Effects of Thumb sucking On Teeth
This habit can cause permanent damage. The following are some of the disadvantages of thumb sucking:
- It can lead to an open bite. An open bite is one when the person the teeth are in a state of disarrangement so that even when he is biting, his front teeth stay apart and he looks as though his mouth is still open. With the thumb always attached to the mouth, the teeth and jaw endure changes that are permanent unless corrected.
- It can cause the protrusion of the upper front teeth. With the thumb constantly putting pressure on the back of the upper front teeth, so it protrudes.
- It can cause the tipping of the lower front teeth. While the activity pushes the upper teeth forward, the lower teeth are tipped back in a retruded position.
- It can lead to a high arched palate. This is a more severe effect that is usually related to prolonged thumb sucking. The constant pressure on the palate and the tension created by the buccinator muscles found on the cheeks, construct the jaw and cause the arching.
- It can increase the risk of infection and disease. Since the child is constantly putting his thumb inside the mouth, there is a bigger risk for him to catch an infection from the environment.
- It can lead awkward social conditions. Thumb sucking usually frowns upon not only by older individual but also by children who can make fun of thumb suckers. With constant ridicule from peers, the child can become totally reclusive and aloof.
How to Control Thumb sucking
The control of thumb sucking can be classified into two categories, home remedies that are carried out by the parents with the guidance of a trusted dentist and dental treatments that are performed and prescribed by dentists. Depending on the condition, treatments may be preventive, corrective and therapeutic in nature.
Home remedies. The first line of defense against thumb sucking is to remedy it at home. Monitoring your child and taking the thumb out can work, but a child is not always too obedient of such instructions even when you explain how bad it is. Often, conditioning is the most effective method and this involves applying something bitter or spicy on the child’s thumb so that the normally enjoyable activity may be perceived as a negative one. Various products are available to facilitate that process; Mavala Stop is an example of a great product that works very well.
If the child could be talked to and is able to receive instruction, it is always best to appeal to his better understanding. If you are able to go through to your child, you can reward good behavior with praise or small prizes to further motivate him. All of these could be really tricky, but with consistency and dedication, you and your child could succeed.
Dental treatments. A dentist may start with dental education and instruction to remedy the condition. When all else fails, especially after home remedies have all been exhausted, a dental appliance may be prescribed.
The dental appliance could be fixed or removable. Some appliances are installed to prevent the child from continuing on with the habit such as the tongue crib, which has a palatal component that discourages the thumb from resting behind the teeth. Some appliances are able to treat and correct the existing problem caused by the habit, such as misaligned teeth and open bites by moving the teeth, expanding the jaw and closing the bite. Depending on the case, the wearing of appliances will be for a few months to a few years, and throughout that period will be supervised by the dental practitioner.
The effects of thumb sucking may be likened to prolonged use of the pacifier, milk bottle, tongue thrusting and mouth breathing. All these activities push the teeth forward disrupt the normal and healthy arrangement of the teeth within the jaw. Depending on the age, state and preference both the parents and the dentist, the address may or may not involve the use of a dental appliance.
If you have any questions or would like further details on treatment for thumb-sucking, contact Tadros Dental to schedule an appointment today.