Thumb Sucking: How It Can Cost You More Than You Think

Thumb sucking is a normal habit for an infant, but it is dangerous when the permanent teeth coming in. An infant has natural rooting and sucking reflexes. According to research, the thumb-sucking behavior can ease physical and psychological tension. Hence, leading an infant to soothe and comfort themselves through their thumb suction habit every time they feel anxious.

At the same time, thumb sucking can stimulate the growth and development of the baby’s teeth. This knowledge leads most parents to overlook the side effect of thumb sucking. If you are new to parenting, you don’t have to panic if your two-year-old has a thumb-sucking habit. Nothing is threatening until the habit doesn’t perish when the kid turns five years old.

The Danger of Thumb Sucking

12.1% of children older than seven years still exhibit the thumb sucking habit. The children will experience oral problems if thumb sucking continues after the growth of permanent teeth. It has a tight correlation with the frequency of thumb sucking, duration, and intensity. The longer or harder your kid sucks their thumb, the worse it will become. These are the side effects of thumb sucking.

Misalignment and Bite Problems

A vigorous thumb sucking will cause constant pressure on their teeth and oral tissue. It encourages the change in bone structure and develops a gap between the upper teeth and the lower.

If this habit untreated, the children will develop a permanent abnormal bite and teeth misalignment. Most children with thumb-sucking habits will have an overbite issue. It requires help from orthodontics to correct the misalignment. And the cost will reach 5,000 USD or more depends on the severity of the misalignment.

Disrupted Jaw Development

The lowered position of a tongue and force that your kid perform when they suck their thumb will disrupt the jaw development, which can cause a narrow high palate. It can affect the structure of the nasal and sinus passages. A worse disruption will cause your kid to experience breathing difficulty. It is the risk factor of sleep-disordered breathing.

Speech Difficulties

Another risk that your child will face with their thumb-sucking habit is speech difficulty. It happens because their tongue muscle doesn’t develop correctly. Hence, they will find it difficult to make “s” and “th” sounds while speaking. To improve their speaking ability, you have to bring your child to a speech therapist. The therapy will work efficiently if your child frequently practicing the lessons on their own.

Treatments to Stop the Habit

You have to conduct an early treatment to stop your child’s thumb-sucking habit. It is to prevent a long-term effect of their habit that might threaten the way they live. Here are some ways to treat your child’s thumb-sucking habit.

Recognize the cause of their habit

You have to observe when your child exhibits their habit. To some children, it only happens when they are anxious. It is because they keep the thumb sucking habit as their response to stress and boredom. Talk to them to ease their anxiousness. Soothe them to prevent your child from seeking comfort through thumb sucking.

Distraction and rewards

Another effective way to reduce their thumb-sucking habit is to make them busy. Distract them with something that will make their hands occupied. You can start by giving them toys or play a fun game with them. It will decrease the chance for your kid to suck their thumb. You can also grant rewards when they manage to control themselves from the thumb sucking habit.

If the thumb sucking habit happens almost every time, let them know the consequences. Give them a gentle reminder instead of scolding them. You will make your child feel worse if you ridicule them. It will fuel the thumb sucking habit.

Counseling and education

If the problem continues, bring your child to a pediatric dentist. The dentist can give you and your child counseling to cure the habit. At the same time, your child will get oral treatment from the dentist if there is an early sign of teeth misalignment. A pediatric dentist has the ability to educate your children and provide gentle care to make them feel comfortable. Thus, they are the right person to visit if you can’t stop your child’s thumb-sucking habit on your own.

There are various side effects of the thumb sucking habit in an older child. If the side effects went unnoticeable and remain untreated for a long time, they will become permanent and require expensive dental treatments. Therefore, the earlier you treat your child will be better. Ask for help if you can’t handle it by yourself.