As always, we have a much longer and more detailed explanation for you on the negative effects of thumb sucking. Here’s what you need to know if you are the parent of a young child who does this.

Non-Nutritive Thumb Sucking 

Pacifier use and thumb sucking are both parts of a larger group of habits called “non-nutritive sucking behaviors,” or NNSB for short. When they are breastfed or fed from a bottle, babies and toddlers use sucking motions to get their food.

Any sucking that doesn’t get “food” is non-nutritive because it doesn’t provide any nutrition. That doesn’t mean that sucking for reasons other than food has no point. Children often use NNSBs to calm themselves down so they can go to sleep or deal with something stressful. During the first two years of life, this is a perfectly normal thing to do. In fact, by age 2, more than 90% of children have some kind of NNSB.

Researchers haven’t agreed on a certain age when this behavior should stop, but most think it should stop on its own by age 4. If a habit lasts longer than that, help may be needed. When a child is older than four, NNSB is seen as strange.

Consequences of Thumb Sucking

When a child keeps sucking his or her thumb as a habit during the first few years of life, it can affect how the face, jaws, and teeth grow. The force of sucking and the upward pressure of the thumb on the roof of the mouth affect the growth of the hard palate, making it narrow and high-vaulted.

Changes in Teeth Position

When the thumb is stuck between the upper and lower jaws all the time, it can cause two bad growth changes. One is when the upper front teeth stick out. Because of how far apart and angled these front teeth are, the upper and lower teeth don’t touch when the child bites down. This means he can’t use his front teeth to break through food. The child will have trouble talking and might get a lisp that won’t go away.

When the problem is just with the teeth, orthodontics can fix the problem quickly. During the first phase of orthodontic treatment, the orthodontist can often help the child stop sucking his or her thumb and move the teeth.

Changes in Jaw Development

Another effect could be that the upper and lower jaws don’t grow as well as they should. From the outside, the child’s face will look narrow, and they won’t be able to close their lips without straining. When the jaws are too small, it can be hard to breathe and cause problems like sleep apnea and snoring. Children with this type of jaw structure always have trouble breathing through their mouths.

In order to fix problems with how the jaw grows, orthodontic care needs to start early. If you start orthodontic treatment while the child is still growing, the orthodontist can guide the remaining growth of the jaws into the right shape. If you wait until the child is done growing to fix problems with the way the jaws fit together, you will have to do invasive jaw surgery.

How to Help Your Child Stop Thumb Sucking?

As with any other possible dental problem, preventing it is always easier and cheaper than fixing it. If you can, try to get your four-year-old to stop sucking his or her thumb. Even if you have been smoking for more than four years, you should still try to quit. As soon as possible is best!

Studies have shown that negative reinforcement doesn’t work well in this situation because thumb-sucking is often a way to calm down or deal with stress. Your child will learn that they no longer need this habit to feel safe if you give them encouragement and positive reinforcement. Reward efforts to quit, and keep encouraging even when things don’t go as planned. If trying to stop makes the child feel stressed or upset, he will want to suck his thumb even more.

Because you can just take away a pacifier, thumb sucking can be harder to break than using a pacifier. The child always has his thumb, which makes it harder for him to say no. Talk to your child’s pediatrician and dentist about what you can do to help your child stop sucking his or her thumb.

Got More Questions?

Call Dr. Motiwala’s Dental Clinic and Implant Center right away to set up an appointment with him. They can answer any questions you have about your child’s growth and development, and if you need treatment, they can refer you to an orthodontist.

Dr. Motiwala in International Press

Dr. Motiwala is a world-renowned dentist who has cared for thousands of patients from every corner of the globe. He has been featured on several news outlets; to read about it, select the network’s logo below.

Dental veneers cost in Australia Dental veneers price in Australia

Time to Get in Touch With Us!!

For more information about the Smile Makeover in India, get in touch with Dr. Motiwala’s Dental Clinic & Implant Center at +91 99596 14584. Simply fill out the form on our CONTACT US page.

Best Dental Tourism Package