Orthodontic, Uncategorized

Will Thumb Sucking Lead to Orthodontic Problems?

For babies and toddlers, thumb sucking is a common and natural habit that generally falls away between the ages of 2 and 4. Children reflexively put their fingers and thumbs in their mouths when they feel tired, hungry, bored or restless, and it’s considered a normal part of childhood development. If the habit is still very strong around 5-6 years old, however, it can lead to tooth and oral health issues that may require early orthodontic treatment, including kids braces. Here’s some advice from an orthodontist in Frankston.

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Orthodontic problems that can be caused by thumb sucking

  • Teeth misalignment: One of the most common side effects of this habit is a misalignment of the front teeth due to pressure exerted by the thumb or finger. Most commonly, the upper teeth often start to protrude, but the bottom front teeth can be affected too. This can be corrected with kids braces.
  • Speech impediment: A child’s pronunciation and speaking abilities can be affected by teeth misalignment, and a lisp (on “s” and “z” sounds) can occur when the front teeth are in a buck-tooth position. This is a critical area of childhood development and speech therapy along with early orthodontic treatment is often required to correct the speech impediment.
  • Jaw malformation: This is a less common but still serious orthodontic issue where the shape and fit of the jaw is affected. The upper jaw may narrow, causing it to fit incorrectly into the lower jaw, or a cross-bite can occur. These issues will require early orthodontic treatment to prevent them from becoming worse as your child grows and affecting the shape of his or her face, causing discomfort when chewing and eating, and breathing through the mouth rather than nose.

How to help your child break the habit

If you are concerned that your child’s thumb sucking is becoming a bad habit (especially as their exposure to germs increases) and want to avoid getting kids braces, you can try the following advice from an orthodontist in Frankston to encourage healthier habits.

  • Positive reinforcement: Remind them gently to take their thumb out of their mouth, asking positively rather than using a punishment. You can also supply any kind of positive reinforcement your child responds to, like a hug and a high-five or a treat. You can also build up to a reward – no thumb-sucking for a whole day means ice cream!
  • Sour tastes: Thumb sucking is often almost unconsciously done, so a sharp-tasting reminder can help a child stop that reflex action. Naile-biting fluid, lemon juice or anything else that’s safe for kids’ consumption but not pleasant-tasting will work well.

Get advice today from a leading orthodontist in Frankston

If you’re worried about your child’s habit and concerned that it’s having an impact on his or her teeth, it’s best to speak to your orthodontist in Frankston. With a full assessment and information about early orthodontic treatment, kids braces and advice on building good oral health habits, you’ll get complete peace of mind.

 

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