How Thumb Sucking Damages Oral Health

When we think of babies and thumb sucking, it seems just a simple act of soothing or letting people know they are hungry and it’s time for them to eat.

But the ways in which this apparently harmless act can affect a child’s oral health might come as a surprise. The difference is also in the way the child does it. If it’s passive and they are just holding the thumb in their mouth, it does not have any significant side effects. 

But, if the thumb sucking involves a lot of movement, it is more active and intense, and it can cause damage to the baby’s teeth. 

Let’s see exactly how thumb-sucking affects oral health.

Long-Term Consequences of Thumb Sucking

Thumb sucking does not affect primary (baby) teeth, but it does have an impact on permanent (adult) teeth. It can cause the permanent teeth to grow and develop, improperly, resulting in a crowded or crooked smile. 

When the child persistently does this, moving their finger a lot through their mouth, this habit can affect the alignment of permanent teeth. It can even affect the jawbone or the roof of the mouth. 

Dental Issues That Can Result from Thumb Sucking

When a baby sucks the thumb, it can cause several dental problems during the development of their permanent teeth, such as:

  • When the upper front teeth extend too much over the lower front teeth, it may create an overbite
  • The upper jaw extends further on the outside, impacting the structure of the child’s face 
  • The child’s lower teeth grow towards the inside of the mouth, instead of being aligned and straight 
  • The upper and lower teeth do not close in a proper bite, causing them to have a permanent gap when the mouth is closed 
  • It can affect the roof of the mouth by narrowing it
  • They may develop a lisp 
  • The tongue does not sit properly in the child’s mouth

The good news is that most of these problems can be fixed, and even avoided entirely if the thumb sucking stops early. 

How to Take Care of a Baby’s Teeth 

  • Help your child to develop and stick to a daily oral hygiene routine (brushing, flossing, and rinsing)
  • Watch what your child eats, avoiding too many sugary foods or hard foods
  • Take your child to regular visits to the dentist and keep their oral health in check

Bring Your Child to Miles of Little Smiles in White Plains

If you want to learn more about taking care of your child’s teeth or need a check-up, we welcome you to our practice.

At Miles of Little Smiles, we focus on preventative care and quality education for the entire family. We strive to make your child’s visit with us a happy one, so we’ve created a safe and friendly environment. 

Contact us for any questions you might have or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Dikla Chazbani and Dr. Mila Belgrade in White Plains. 

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