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The Effect of thumb Sucking on Teeth Alignment

Posted on 10.10.2012 by perfectsmile

The Effect of thumb Sucking on Teeth AlignmentMany young babies develop the habit of sucking their thumb early in life, and most of them grow out of it before any damage is done. For some, however, it becomes a firmly ingrained habit which continues to an age at which significant damage to the alignment of their teeth has been done.

Most young babies find it comforting to suck on their thumb from time to time. Often, it’s a habit which will calm them down when they’re upset, or help them get to sleep at night. Usually, this isn’t a problem, but occasionally it can become more detrimental. For many children, it may be wiser to persuade them to trade their thumb for a pacifier, since weaning them off a pacifier which, after all, can be taken off them and thrown away, is significantly easier than persuading them to stop sucking their own thumb.

As stated previously, thumb sucking at a very early age, before the first teeth have even started growing, can be fairly harmless. As a rough guide, thumb sucking should prove to be pretty much consequence free if it’s stopped before the eruption of permanent teeth. If it continues after this, however, usually round about the age of four and five, then it’s a habit which can have a drastic effect on the position of a child’s teeth. Thumb sucking of this kind can actually shift the position of the teeth, leading to crooked teeth, overcrowding or a bite which doesn’t meet evenly.

When your child puts their teeth together, the top teeth should overlap the bottom evenly and neatly, but teeth which have been shifted won’t do this. A gap between the two rows of teeth will be created which is unsightly and can have an effect upon a child’s speaking voice. The ramifications of this should not be underestimated, since children, and in particular adolescents, will often feel great distress at the thought of everyone staring at a physical imperfection of this kind. Unfortunately, weaning children off sucking their thumb is often somewhat easier said than done. Since many children suck their thumbs when feeling anxious or worried, it can help to track down the source of this anxiety and stop the mood developing in the first place. Alternatively, some parents tackle the problem by giving their children some kind of toy and puzzle to keep their hands occupied. It’s vital that you don’t make your child feel as if they are doing anything ‘bad’, which is why it’s better to reward a child who doesn’t suck their thumb than to punish a child who does. Your orthodontist may also be able to offer advice as to how to wean a child off sucking their thumb.

Occasionally, however, no matter how hard you try, there’s no way of stopping a child sucking their thumb, particularly since many children do it whilst they’re sleeping, In cases such as this, the position of the teeth will be shifted, sometimes drastically, and orthodontic treatment is the only remedy which will successfully shift them back. In the past, many people, teenagers in particular, would hesitate to access teeth straightening treatment because of a fear that obtrusive, ugly metal braces would be both uncomfortable and more distressing than the condition they were treating. Modern orthodontic treatment is different, however. Metal braces are lighter and less obvious than they used to be, whilst many dentists are able to offer the Invisalign form of treatment. This is a system which uses transparent, lightweight plastic retainers, custom made and often referred to as ‘invisible braces’ because, once they’re in place, nobody will know unless you make a choice to tell them.

Thumb sucking can have a drastic effect upon the alignment of a child’s teeth, affecting their appearance and the way they talk. Fortunately, whilst stopping a child sucking their thumb can be difficult, accessing treatment to correct the damage is easier than it’s ever been.

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