Pediatric Dentistry Information: How Long-Term Thumb-Sucking May Affect Permanent Teeth Development

thumb sucking
Thumb-sucking may lead to pediatric dentistry treatments someday. This soothing habit in babies, toddlers, or even young children may be cute to look at. Yet, the reality of long-term thumb-sucking involves dental consequences for the child. It may affect various aspects of the child’s jaw, teeth, and facial development in a negative way. If you want to find out how this happens, here are the facts.

Effects of thumb-sucking

Keeping the thumb in the mouth without sucking it does not cause any harm to the dentition at all. Active thumb-sucking can affect the proper positioning of baby teeth. The misalignment tends to self-correct as the adult teeth emerge. Extended, active thumb-sucking leads to the misalignment in the child’s permanent teeth. It can also expose the child to more dirt, bacteria, and even viruses. This will call for pediatric dentistry treatments for the teeth, jaw, and roof of the mouth as the child gets older.

Parents should discourage thumb-sucking in children by age four. Keeping the habit beyond this age can affect the development of the child’s jaw and mouth. The child will likely need specific treatments for the jaw and the teeth. It may be difficult to make the child stop thumb-sucking right away. Because of this, the parents should start discouraging the habit by age two or earlier.

Problems from long-term thumb-sucking

Children who thumb-suck beyond four years old can suffer from misalignment of the teeth or malocclusion issues. The most common one is the open bite. In this problem, the bottom and upper teeth do not touch each other, even with a closed mouth. An overbite can also happen due to extended thumb-sucking. In this dental problem, the upper dental arch goes over the lower dental arch. This results in biting and chewing difficulties.

The child’s facial and jaw development also go through significant changes because of long-term thumb-sucking. Prolonged sucking on a pacifier or thumb affects the development of a child’s facial and mouth muscles. It also affects the positioning of the child’s teeth and jaws. The repetitive motion of sucking pushes the teeth toward an unnatural direction. In this case, the child will need pediatric dentistry correction techniques.

Long-term thumb-sucking can also affect the child’s speech development. The open bite or overbite makes the tongue push forward through the teeth. This poor control of the tongue often results in difficulties with saying R, Z, S, and L sounds. Seeing a pediatric dentist can help with this problem. Pediatric dentistry treatments can realign the child’s permanent teeth. Realignment of the teeth can correct the child’s speech.

Pediatric dentistry treatments can help with the effects of long-term thumb-sucking

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