Exploring Oral Health Symptoms, Issues and Solutions

How Prolonged Thumb-Sucking Habits Can Destroy Your Child's Teeth

As a parent, you must be burying your head in thoughts whenever you see your child sucking his or her thumb. What is the baby up to? What is she thinking? Is he okay? The truth is that babies don't suck their thumbs for any other reason other than soothing themselves. When they are upset, hungry, sick or bored, thumb sucking is one of the easiest ways of calming down what is eating at them. But despite their good intentions, the behavior can give rise to serious dental problems if allowed to prolong.

What Dental Issues Can Result From Thumb-Sucking?

An open bite is one problem that can surface as a result of your child's thumb-sucking practice. The condition is characterized by misalignment of the upper and lower jaw. Teeth of both jaws push outwards to the extent that they fail to touch each other, even when the mouth is closed. The gap left between the teeth can have adverse effects on your child's speech; your child will find it difficult to pronounce certain words when the tongue slides in and occupies the gap between the teeth. For instance, sounds such as /s/ and /z/ may come out as 'th,' and later when the kid has grown up, the condition plus its related effects can impact your child's self-esteem and limit how he interacts with his peers. Correcting an open bite is possible of course, but it will require an investment that can cost you dearly. Prevention is the best cure.

When Should A Baby Stop Sucking His or Her Thumb?

The age of 3 is considered by dentists as the age that a child should stop sucking his thumb. Ideally, though, the right time is when the second teeth start to set in. An open bite can even self-correct provided the child stops the habit a few months after permanent teeth have sprouted.

What Can You Do To Stop The Habit And Save Your Child From Distorting His or Her Teeth?

The best way to make your kid stop the habit is to speak his language, and the language that is understood by most children is known as reward. Instead of scolding your baby whenever he sticks a finger in his mouth, find a way of rewarding him when he does it. Simply remove the thumb and show him the reward. The child will then adapt to your presents and will cease to suck his thumb with the expectation that goodies will come his way. Another strategy is to comfort the child with a hug or engaging the child in a play whenever he appears sad or upset. This will divert the child's wandering thoughts to you instead of his fingers. 

For more information or assistance, contact establishments like DI Dental Implant Centre.