Thumb sucking is a common habit in infants and young children, usually starting shortly after birth. Some people may think that this behavior seems harmless and provides comfort and safety for infants and young children. However, it is important to note that prolonged thumb sucking can harm the development and alignment of teeth. In this article, we will explore the various effects of thumb sucking on teeth and offer some suggestions for orthodontic treatment. Read on for more information.

Possible risks

First, we need to understand that thumb sucking can be harmful to the development and alignment of infants’ teeth. Their possible consequences include the following aspects:

  1. Misaligned Teeth: 

The misaligned teeth are one of the main issues related to thumb sucking. The teeth may move out of their proper alignment due to the thumb’s continual pressure. This may eventually result in an overbite, underbite, or crossbite. Not only do misaligned teeth impair the way people smile, but they can also hinder correct speech and chewing development.

  1. Midline shift in dentistry

Long-term thumb sucking can also cause a shift in the midline of the teeth. The midline refers to the line that divides the top and lower pairs of teeth. The upper front teeth may shift forward and become misaligned with the lower front teeth when children suck their thumbs repeatedly. This change may lead to an uneven bite and further complications in the future.

  1. Palatal changes: 

The palate, or roof of the mouth, can also change form as a result of thumb sucking. A narrower and higher arched palate might result from the thumb’s continual upward pressure on the palate. This may make it difficult to arrange the tongue properly, which could impair the way you speak and swallow.

  1. Open bite: 

Another possible side effect of thumb sucking is an open bite. This occurs when there is a space between the top and lower front teeth while the mouth is closed. Thumb sucking can make the front teeth tilt outward and keep them from correctly lining up with the lower teeth. An open bite can also have an impact on chewing, biting, and even speech development.

  1. Speech impairments:

Thumb sucking can negatively influence a child’s speech development. Tooth alignment issues and changes in the palate’s shape can cause difficulties in pronouncing certain consonants like “s” and “t”. Long-term thumb sucking can impede tongue movement and coordination, which further impedes speaking.

Influencing factors

There exist a lot of factors which affect the severity of any dental problems. They include the intensity of your child’s thumb sucking as well as the length of time. If your child only puts their thumb in their mouth for temporary comfort, it may hardly affect tooth development. However, if your child sucks long and hard, it can lead to permanent major changes.

Studies show that in the first year of their lives, one-third of babies suck their thumbs. Most children stop independently sucking their thumbs between the ages of two and four. Only one in twenty children still suck their thumb at the age of eight. If children still suck their thumb when their baby teeth appear, you need to keep a close eye on them. You can talk to your dentist about monitoring your child’s tooth development more carefully.

Orthodontic treatment

If your child has dental problems due to thumb sucking, orthodontic braces may help move the tooth back into place. Additionally, it can reduce the chance of tooth decay and gum disease developing, repair jaw problems that influence bites, etc.

A clear aligner is a kind of common orthodontic treatment tool. After taking a mold of your teeth, your child’s orthodontist will create a series of clear aligners to replace regularly. Each orthotic will move the tooth a little more until you get the desired result. Once children complete brace treatment, they will need to wear retainers at night while sleeping to maintain the results.

Dental care

It is necessary to take care of baby teeth to provide a good foundation for the growth of permanent teeth. When your child’s permanent teeth start growing, you need to help them promote dental hygiene and keep their mouth healthy. If your child’s permanent teeth are damaged, they may need expensive dental work to repair them in the future. If the damage is too severe, you must remove permanent teeth. Here are some tips:

  1. Make sure your child brushes their teeth twice a day. 

You need to supervise and help your child until they can brush their teeth on their own. It is important to help your child master the techniques of toothbrush and floss properly. In this way, we can remove the bacteria on the teeth in time and maintain oral hygiene.

  1. Keep an eye on your child’s diet. 

Make sure your child eats a healthy and balanced diet and try to avoid sugary food that causes tooth decay. Furthermore, you should also help them avoid hard food which causes baby or permanent teeth to chip and break.

  1. Schedule regular dental checkups for your child. 

Once your child has baby teeth, it is necessary to schedule regular dental checkups for them. Regular dental visits can be conducive to monitoring the normal growth and development of teeth.

Infants may find comfort in thumb sucking, but it’s important to break this habit before it causes long-term dental problems. Early intervention is crucial because of the implications of thumb sucking on teeth. These effects may include misalignment, dental midline shift, palatal alterations, open bites, and speech problems. Parents and other caregivers should take proactive measures to ensure the proper development of children’s teeth and overall oral health.