All babies suck their thumbs at one point or another, some even before they are born – expectant parents have seen it on the ultrasound! It’s a typical phenomenon that is completely harmless – up to a certain age. Sucking his thumb can’t harm your child’s baby teeth but when his permanent teeth start to erupt the habit should be curbed.
There are several theories on why babies are so inclined to suck their thumbs. Some think it has to do with whether or not the baby is breastfed and if so how he conforms to it. It can also be a sign that the baby is teething according to Polkadot Pediatric Dentistry in Alpharetta. Some experts have also noted that babies who are fed more often are less likely to suck their thumbs. Still, others believe that genetics plays a role, but whatever the reason behind it thumb sucking can alter the alignment of your child’s permanent teeth.
Thumb sucking and using bottles for too long can lead to the development of an open bite. This is when the teeth do not meet when the mouth is closed. It is much easier and a lot less expensive to discourage thumb sucking at the young age of 4 or 5 than it could be to undergo extensive orthodontic treatment
What’s the best way to get your child to stop sucking his thumb? If you’re lucky he will just stop on his own but if not there are some tried and true methods that some parents swear by. One of the most often heard of is the use of an over the counter ointment or liquid that is painted right on the skin and is unpleasant to the taste but totally harmless to the baby. Then there is the psychological approach. Kids tend to imitate others. It may be helpful to let your little thumb sucker play with older kids who have outgrown the habit.
A pacifier is popularly thought of as an easy way to wean a baby away from sucking his thumb. Though this may be so, a pacifier can often become merely a substitute for the thumb. The sucking motion is still there which does nothing to reduce the risk for misalignment.
Consult with our Aurora pediatric dentist Dr. Patterson of Epic Dentistry for Kids about the importance and the recommended remedies for discouraging continued thumb sucking. Call today @ 720-721-3600.