During his long dental career, Dr. Behnam Rostami has helped treat numerous patients ranging from adults to young children. When it comes to dealing with younger patients, one of the concerns that many parents have is the effect of thumb sucking on children’s teeth. Children often resort to sucking thumbs for a number of reasons, but mostly as a way of feeling secure and happy.
When permanent teeth come in, sucking teeth can become an issue that impacts the growth and alignment of teeth. It can also affect the structure of the roof of the mouth. Pacifiers can bring the same issues, but they are often easier to let go off. The intensity of the act can be a determinant to the degree of dental problems caused. If the thumb rests passively in the mouth, it can be less of an issue than when the thumb is sucked vigorously.
In many cases, children cease sucking their thumbs when they reach four years of age, or when the front teeth start to appear. However, if your child’s thumbsucking is cause for concern with regards to the front teeth, you should never hesitate to consult a doctor.
How do you get a child to stop sucking their thumb?
First, you have to be gentle and praise them when they don’t suck their thumbs for a period of time. Children often resort to the behavior if they’re feeling unhappy or insecure. You can focus on addressing the issue that brings about the anxiety or discomfort. For older children, ask for their input in stopping the behavior.
Dr. Behnam Rostami runs Gilroy Plaza Dental in Gilroy, CA. It’s one of the two dental offices he operates.