Friday, May 19, 2017

Effects of Thumb Sucking

The patients at Garrison Family Dentistry include families’ newest additions. Often, parents want to know whether their children’s thumb sucking is going to harm their oral development. Usually, this is not the case, but if the behavior continues past the age of five, when the child’s permanent teeth start erupting, they may experience bite problems.

Toddlers find it soothing to suck on something, and because their skull bones are not fully fused together, they usually do not experience problems as a result. But their faces solidify just as their first baby teeth fall out, and the continued pressure of thumb sucking could result in their front teeth or the fronts of their jaws being pulled forward. This results in misalignment which has to be corrected through orthodontics, and until then, the child may suffer difficulty speaking and maintaining oral hygiene.

When thumb sucking is a deep-seated nervous response, a child will not only have difficulty breaking the habit but could develop an equally harmful substitute habit of pushing against their teeth their tongue. Help from a psychologist may be helpful, but children old enough for thumb sucking to be a problem may be mature enough to be included in strategizing ways to change their behavior.

Drs. Matthew Garrison and Anna Jones operate at Garrison Family Dentistry, 14790 N. 169 Highway, Smithville, Missouri, 64089. To schedule an appointment, call 816-532-8778 or visit and fill out a contact sheet.

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