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Smile Elements Orthodontics Blog

5 Things You Need to Know about Thumb Sucking and Your Child's Teeth

Posted by Dr. Hisham Badawi | November 06 2019

Thumb sucking and pacifiers are natural and soothing for your child. It is normal behavior for infants but as your child gets older, the more dangerous active thumb sucking can be for their developing teeth. Taking preventative measures against thumb sucking will not only benefit your child's oral health but it will also improve their overall health. Here are five things every parent should know about thumb sucking and their child's health.


Bite Problems

The pressure that thumb sucking puts on the roof of your child's mouth, jawbone and teeth is likely the reason your child is experiencing crooked teeth and dental problems early on in life. The most common problems include but aren’t limited too:

  • Bite problems
  • Movement of teeth
  • Changes the shape of the jaw

Taking preventative measures against thumb sucking is the best way to ensure your child doesn’t compromise their healthy smile. Orthodontic treatment is a great way to treat any existing problems and have your child stop thumb sucking altogether.


Difficulties With Speech

The alignment of our teeth plays a big role in how we speak. Consequences of thumb sucking can oftentimes lead to difficulty with speech. Children can grow to become frustrated or insecure about how they speak which can negatively affect their self-esteem. The most common speech difficulties include:

  • Slurring words
  • Difficulty pronouncing “S” and “T”
  • Unable to enunciate

With the help of Orthodontic treatment, most of these symptoms will go away over time. In extreme cases, professional help might be required. To prevent crooked teeth and difficulties with speech make regular dental appointments for your child with a pediatric dentist.



Greater Amount of Germ Intake

The act of thumb sucking allows your child to pick up viruses and bacteria much easier. When you think about it, kids put their hands everywhere! It’s hard to know what exactly they're putting back into their bodies. Some health risks that are associated with thumb sucking include:
  • Tooth Decay
  • Weakened Immune System
  • Increased risk of viral infection

It is important to remind your child that thumb sucking can be harmful to their health. Having them wear gloves or a thumb shield is a great preventative measure that will keep their overall health in tip-top shape.



Mouth Breathing

It is not uncommon for thumb suckers to turn into mouth breathers. There are a number of different factors that could be causing your child to mouth breath (crooked teeth, bite issues, etc.) and a number of different factors as to why this can be harmful to their mouths.

  • Inflamed Gums
  • Tooth Decay
  • Open Bite

Preventing mouth breathing isn’t an easy task, sometimes this can only be fixed through orthodontic treatment. Luckily, once the teeth and jaw are aligned these issues tend to disappear over time.


Skin Problems 

Children who have sucked on their thumb for years can be causing damage to the skin on their thumb. The moisture of the mouth and the pressure of sucking can cause the skin to crack and bleed which can cause extreme discomfort. Some more serious health concerns include:

  • Nail Falling Off
  • Infection in The Skin
  • Ingrown or peeling nail

The longer your child keeps sucking on their thumb the more likely they are to have one or more of these problems. Educating your child on the risks associated with this action is a great way to make them understand the importance of their oral health.





Written by Dr. Hisham Badawi

An accomplished clinician, researcher, speaker and subject matter expert, with broad, in-depth and hands-on experience in many verticals within the healthcare space including technology applications in clinical practice, clinical research, biomechanics, bioinformatics, intellectual property, software development, clinical data sciences, and healthcare data privacy regulations.

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