Hegewisch, IL
(773) 646-4664

Burbank, IL
(708) 424-5650

Dentist Burbank

Are you concerned about your child’s thumb-sucking or pacifier usage? We can help! Check out these five important facts about your child’s thumb-sucking habit and the ways you can help them quit.

1. Thumb-sucking is completely natural.

According to the American Dental Association, thumb-sucking is a natural reflex that can even be seen when your child is still in the womb. This is a self-soothing mechanism that makes your child feel safe and secure. It can also help to induce sleep, which is why they may do this more in the evening before bed. Thumb-sucking can even help your child to develop stronger jaw muscles. That said, while thumb-sucking is completely natural and can even benefit your child’s well-being, it can become detrimental to their health if the habit continues for too long.

2. To avoid health repercussions, discourage thumb-sucking by age 4.

While thumb-sucking at a younger age is to be expected, it cannot continue forever without impacting their health. It is important to discourage this habit by the time they reach age 4. This is the age at which your child’s developing jaw and teeth can be impacted by prolonged or forceful thumb-sucking.

3. Thumb-sucking can cause teeth misalignment.

The degree of damage that can be caused to your child’s teeth and jaw can vary depending on the forcefulness or severity of their thumb-sucking. For example, if your child sucks on their thumb very intensely or aggressively, it can cause more damage than if their thumb is just gently placed in their mouth. For those children who are more aggressive with their thumb-sucking habit, their teeth may gradually tilt forward. This can cause an open bite, overbite, or even a crossbite.

4. Children who suck on their thumb for too long may experience impacts on their overall health.

Unfortunately, thumb-sucking does not only impact teeth alignment but can also have repercussions on their overall health. Children who suck their thumbs until a later age may experience difficulties with speech, a shrinking airway, and problems with swallowing. Some even experience a change in their tongue’s natural resting space, leading to sleep disorders like sleep apnea in the future.

5. There are several ways you can help your child break the habit.

If your child sucks their thumb and they still have not reached the age of 4, there’s no need to worry. Many children give up thumb-sucking on their own with time. Often, children will stop sucking their thumbs due to social situations once they’ve entered kindergarten. That said, there are a few things you can do to help resolve the issue. For starters, try giving a pacifier to your child as an infant—these are easier to take away when the time comes. Simple praise and encouragement for good behavior and not thumb-sucking are also helpful. You may even set up a reward system to track your child’s progress. If your child needs further encouragement, be sure to bring them into our offices! We’re happy to help explain the positive effects of dropping the habit in a fun and interesting way.

To schedule your child’s next appointment, contact TruBlu Dentistry in Burbank, Chicago, and Hegewisch today!

Be proud of your smile.