The Dangers of Thumb Sucking

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What are the causes and problems involved with thumb sucking?

Should parents allow their children to suck their thumbs?

Many doctors believe that thumb sucking will lead to an impact on a child’s teeth.

Thumb sucking puts pressure on the sides of the upper jaw and the soft tissue on the roof of the mouth. The can cause the upper jaw to narrow, which means the teeth will not meet properly. This can be fixed with braces, but can also cause speech problems, such as a lisp.
Thirty percent of preschool kids still suck their thumbs. Although most kids outgrow it by 5 years of age, thumb sucking can be very harmful if they are still sucking their thumbs when their permanent teeth start to come in. Vigorous thumb suckers will have more dental problems.

Some of the reasons for thumb sucking are:

  • Feeling stressed
  • Worried
  • Bored
  • Tired

It is very important to stop this habit of thumb sucking before permanent teeth are emerging. Long term effects from thumb sucking can cause a cross-bite. Also, a “thumb hole” in the roof of the mouth resulting from thumb sucking can cause an imbalance across the teeth, and will affect the structure of the mouth and jaw as a child grows.