Might Thumb-Sucking Affect A Child’s Bite?

Is your child in the habit of sucking his or her thumb? If so, there is normally nothing to be worried about. This behaviour will generally end between the ages of one and three. 

However, this habit might become an issue if it is allowed to continue for an extended period of time. 

Were you aware that prolonged thumb-sucking may lead to problems with the teeth and the overall development of the jaw? What are some potential concerns and when should parents (and dentists) actively intervene? Let us quickly examine what the industry experts have to say. 

The Issue with Chronic Thumb Sucking

The main problem is that constant thumb-sucking can cause baby teeth to improperly enter once they break through the gum line. There can even be times when the teeth begin to grow “around the thumb” due to its constant presence. 

This can result in crooked teeth at an early age, possibly requiring dental intervention as the child ages. 

The other major concern is that thumb sucking can affect the bite of a child. This is known as a “malocclusion” and it is particularly worrisome if the habit continues once the permanent teeth have begun to enter. 

The most common situation is a condition referred to as an “open bite”. This is characterised by teeth that do not properly align even when the jaw is completely closed. In other words, a small space is present between the upper and lower teeth. 

Other problems which can arise as a result include discomfort, difficulty chewing or even speech problems. So, when should parents seek the help of a dentist?

When to Intervene

Most experts recommend that intervention should take place if your child has not stopped sucking his or her thumb by the age of five. By this point, the teeth may still be able to return to their normal position (although orthodontic options might also be considered). 

A dentist will be able to determine what steps need to be taken as well as the severity of any issues with the teeth that may already be present.

Of course, thumb sucking represents a normal stage of childhood development. The main issue involves when this habit does not cease on its own. If you hope to avoid any future orthodontic problems with your child, it is a good idea to consult with a dentist to learn more.