Did you know that thumbsucking can start as early as before a child is born? It is a normal part of the growing process unless it persists beyond the age of 2-3 years. Beyond this age, the habit could negatively impact the healthy development of your child’s teeth, jaws, and gums. Therefore, parents should monitor this habit in their children. The following are some of the side effects of thumbsucking:
Crooked Tooth Alignment
Proper tooth alignment is when the upper row of teeth overlaps the lower row of teeth. However, for children who suck their thumbs, pressure on the jaws could lead to a gap between the upper and lower front teeth. The gap makes the front teeth appear shorter than the other teeth.
The possibility of the front upper teeth to protrude outwards is also high if the habit does not stop after a child loses their baby teeth.
If the upper and lower jaws are not properly aligned, the bite of your child is affected. He or she will have an open bite due to this crooked alignment. Over time, the resulting dental arrangement can result in poor eating habits like the involuntarily spilling of food from the mouth.
The effects of thumbsucking are not only associated with appearance and chewing habits. Your child is at risk of pronunciation difficulties because thumbsucking can affect the palates or form a gap in between teeth. Both symptoms could make it difficult for your child to speak clearly.
As much as it may seem reasonable to you for your newborn to keep sucking their thumb, it is detrimental in the long run. Once teeth start growing, the child should voluntarily stop thumbsucking. However, if the problem persists or if you are noticing that the habit has already affected your child’s teeth, you can consult Dr. Zola Makrauer and Dr. Julie Miller. The dentists at Huntingdon Valley Dental Arts are experienced in handling pediatric dental health and would be happy to provide advice.