Prevention is the number one way to achieve excellent oral health. While thumb sucking is a natural part of childhood and children often suck thumbs or fingers to comfort themselves, long-term reliance on thumb sucking can create orthodontic issues that require lengthy treatment. In addition to orthodontic issues, thumb sucking can cause faster spread of disease because of the germs kids pick up on their fingers.
By breaking these habits early, we can often sidestep complex treatment plans and long-term orthodontic care in the future.
How to Break the Thumb Sucking Habit
Sometimes children can quit thumb sucking on their own. Talk to your child and help them realize it is time to break the habit. It is difficult for children to quit this comforting habit all at once. Start by setting limits and offering gentle reminders when you notice them going back to old patterns.
Remember to use gentle reminders and realize that it will take some time to break the habit. Dr. Raf and Dr. Rupin can help you with ways to gently wean your child from the thumb sucking habit.
Thumb Sucking Appliances
If your child cannot seem to kick the habit on their own, we offer dental appliances at Bitesize Pediatric Dentistry that can keep your child from thumb sucking. Appliances usually use ridges that make it impossible for the thumb to come in contact with the palate, right behind the front teeth where this behavior can cause the most damage.
The ridges on the thumb-sucking appliance also make it impossible to create suction and greater force when their thumb is in the mouth.
Consequences of Non-Treatment
When left unaddressed, the thumb sucking habit can have a negative effect on the alignment of your child’s teeth. Malocclusion, or a misaligned bite, can create dental problems, jaw pain, headaches, and cosmetic issues that may take years and thousands of dollars to correct.
At a few hundred dollars, thumb-sucking appliances can work in a matter of weeks to months. Once your child has kicked the habit for good, the appliance can be removed.
Appliances are also effective in the treatment of tongue thrusting, a common behavior that involves pushing the tongue against the anterior teeth when speaking, swallowing, or at rest. Tongue thrusting is a common behavior in infants that they usually outgrow. For unknown reasons, some children continue the behavior longer and when left untreated it can create an overbite.
Contact Us for a Consultation
Call our Brooklyn, NY pediatric dental office to schedule a behavior consultation for you and your child. We can determine if it is time to kick thumb-sucking habits once and for all and help you obtain the tools necessary for success!