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Why Is Thumb Sucking Harmful? 5 Possible Side Effects

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By Author: James Franklin
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When babies are born, one of the many innate reflexes is the sucking reflex, which they use to satisfy their hunger. Up until age two, it is normal for them to find sucking their thumb satisfying. Many kids stop this habit until they are four years old, but those who continue to do so can have negative effects.

The effects of thumb sucking might not directly damage or harm the child’s teeth, but it can cause problems in their mouth teeth alignment and facial appearance and development. If you see the effects of thumb sucking on the alignment of your child’s baby teeth, discontinuing the habit helps correct alignment once their permanent teeth erupt.

Here are five possible side effects of thumb sucking.

1. Open Bite. This is perhaps the most common side effect of thumb sucking. An open bite is a condition where the upper front teeth does not overlap the lower front teeth. The teeth are usually protruded and the mouth fails to completely close. This condition can give rise to other problems like improper jaw growth, ...
... poor aesthetics, gum redness, and impaired function of the front teeth.
2. Overbite. Normally, the upper teeth overlap the lower teeth by 1 to 2 millimeters. But with prolonged thumb sucking, an excessive overlap can happen, a condition called an overbite. Just like an open bite, an overbite can also affect the smile and facial structure of the child. Most kids with an overbite tend to be conscious of their smile, usually developing low self-confidence.
3. Skin Problems. Aside from affecting the dentition and appearance, prolonged thumb sucking can also give rise to skin problems on the child’s thumb. These children tend to have developed skin problems on their thumb. Because the thumb is always moist, it is more prone to cracking, bleeding, injury and subsequent infections.
4. Speech Impediment. With the improper alignment of the teeth, palate and jaws, the child can have difficulties speaking and pronouncing certain syllables and sounds like “f,” “s,” “t,” and “d.” This habit can lead to the development of a lisp. Because of this, they might often be ridiculed by their peers. And as they grow up, they can feel isolation from others and develop poor self-confidence.
5. Social Issues. Thumb sucking can hamper the behavior of the child, which can create social issues. Child who thumb suck are often ridiculed by their classmates and friends. For some of them, this can be sign of boredom. Usually, they do not realize that they subconsciously doing it. Aside from this, constant and prolonged sucking can bruise the child’s lips, leading to more aesthetic problems.

Here are some ways to get your child to stop this habit.

• Tell them the reasons why they should not suck on their thumb
• Look into any possible sources of stress, which might cause them to find solace in thumb sucking.
• Do not reprimand your child once they start to suck their thumb. Instead, subtly and gently distract them with an activity or toy.

If your child has a tendency to suck their thumb when they are going to sleep, try to fit a sock over their hand to prevent them from doing so. It would also help to consult a dentist to give an unpleasant-tasting medication that you can apply on your child’s thumb to discourage them from sucking on it.

Do you have any more concerns or questions about the side effects and long term effects of sucking the thumb on your child, talk to a reputable dentist in your area now. Aside from giving you tips on how to stop this, they can also personally talk to your child to discourage them from this doing this habit.

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