Thumbsucking 101: Is It Bad For Your Child?

Science explains that Thumbsucking is a natural reflexive behavior where a person sucks their thumb to soothe themselves and learn how to accept nourishment.

But did you know that prolonged thumbsucking can cause dental and skeletal problems? 

A lot of research found that thumbsucking can affect a child’s teeth development especially if the habit continues beyond the age of four. 

In this blog, we’ll talk about the effects of thumbsucking on a child’s dental development.

Thumbsucking is normal for children

The act of thumbsucking is a common behavior for humans, especially infants. It is a natural reflex and part of their coping mechanism as they grow.

It is known as a non-nutritive sucking habit. Non-Nutritive sucking habits are common in young children who usually stop as they become older.

Bad effects of thumbsucking

However, prolonged thumbsucking can cause serious dental problems, such as overbite, open bite, misaligned teeth, and speech difficulty.

Thumbsucking is normal for children but the prolonged duration and frequency of thumbsucking is not.

Some children can’t stop the habit even if they are already beyond the age of four. And this is no longer normal.

Research studies found that prolonged thumbsucking seriously affects a person’s teeth and bone structure. Here are some of the possible side effects of prolonged thumbsucking on your child’s oral health:

Misaligned teeth

Thumbsucking commonly causes unaligned bites. 

Overbite, as an example, is a dental condition when the upper teeth stick out too far beyond the lower teeth— commonly caused by the shape/size of the jaw or teeth. An open bite occurs when the top teeth and bottom teeth do not come together or bite in the correct position.  

Since the upper and lower teeth slant outward they don’t touch when the jaw is closed. The continuous thumbsucking strains the alignment of the teeth which causes speech, chewing, and typical facial development difficulties.

Speech difficulty

The prolonged thumbsucking can cause a problem with the child’s speech development because of the bite problems which cause speech difficulties such as lisping or mispronunciation.

It further hinders the development of the tongue, which is vital in speech production. While thumbsucking is associated with self-comfort and security feelings, it is important to know that this should not last beyond four years old.

Social stigma

Aside from the serious oral health side effects of thumbsucking, children who still suck on their thumb may be given negative reactions. 

The public may perceive the act of thumbsucking as a sign of a lack of self-control. They may be subjected to public shaming and bullying. 

If you want to help your child overcome thumbsucking or you need professional guidance about your child’s oral health, contact us at My Children’s Choice and learn how we can lead the way to a brighter future. 

Schedule an appointment by calling (202) 410-0088  today!

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