Thumb sucking: 5 side effects of thumb sucking

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Why is thumb sucking harmful? What is side effects of thumb sucking?

Children use sucking behaviors to calm themselves since infancy. In fact, many parents rely on pacifiers, teething toys, and other items designed for children to suck on to help their children regulate their emotions.

As children grow older, they may develop the habit of sucking their fingers or thumbs. Unfortunately, thumb sucking can have long-term negative consequences if it is practiced after the age of four. The following five are possible side effects of prolonged or intense thumb sucking.

Why is thumb sucking harmful? Side effects of thumb sucking
Why is thumb sucking harmful? Side effects of thumb sucking

Side effects of thumb sucking: Open Bite

Thumb sucking’s most serious long-term consequences are various types of dental malocclusion. Malocclusion is a classification term for visible tooth misalignment when the mouth is closed. The next section will go over two of the most common types of malocclusion caused by thumb sucking: open bite and overbite.

When the top and bottom front teeth become directed outward, the bite becomes open. Because of this misalignment, the front teeth do not touch even when your child’s mouth is completely closed.

Open bite may necessitate orthodontic treatment in the future or may exacerbate other dental misalignments that require orthodontic treatment.

Side effects of thumb sucking: Overbite

Overbite, like open bite malocclusion, occurs when the teeth become directed outward. However, in an overbite configuration, this misalignment is restricted to the upper front teeth. When your child’s mouth is closed, the top teeth cover the bottom teeth, rather than the top and bottom teeth normally touching.

The shape of the face and smile can be affected by overbite malocclusion. Extreme overbites may necessitate extensive orthodontic treatment to correct the problem.

Because overlapping teeth can prevent proper placement of traditional metal braces brackets, patients with overbites may require treatment with headgear and other alternative orthodontic appliances in some cases.

Side effects of thumb sucking: Skin Problems

Children who suck their thumbs for a long time may develop painful or serious skin problems on their preferred thumb. When the skin is exposed to the moisture of the mouth, it becomes vulnerable to other injuries. The skin may crack or bleed in some cases, leaving your child’s hands vulnerable to infection.

The thumb may become calloused. Thumb sucking’s pressure and moisture may also warp the thumbnail, causing ingrowth or peeling.

If your child’s thumb sucking causes severe skin problems, you may need to discourage the behavior by bandaging the affected thumb, placing a medical finger glove over the finger, or otherwise protecting the thumb. Avoid aversion tactics such as dipping your finger in an unpleasant tasting substance because they can cause a lot of frustration and rarely produce long-term results.

Side effects of thumb sucking: Speech Impediment

Why is thumb sucking harmful? Thumb sucking can change how your child eats and speaks because it affects the development of the teeth, jaw, and palate. Thumb sucking can result in lisping and other speech impediments, such as difficulty pronouncing hard consonant sounds like “D” and “T.”

Even high-quality speech therapy may not fully correct these impediments without proper dental care because deformed sounds are caused in part by the shape of your child’s teeth in relation to his or her tongue.

Speech impediments may make it more difficult for your child to communicate effectively. Many children with speech impediments also experience high levels of frustration, anger, and feelings of isolation.

Thumb sucking
Why is thumb sucking harmful?

Side effects of thumb sucking: Social Issues

Even before your child’s thumb sucking becomes a serious threat to his or her dental development, the habit may cause social problems. Children who suck their thumbs in public may become the target of mockery from their peers. While thumb sucking is a common childhood habit, as your child grows older, others may judge him or her for continuing the habit.

For many children, thumb sucking is a subconscious response to stress or boredom. Because your child may not think before putting his or her thumb to work, he or she may require your assistance and instruction to break the habit during the appropriate developmental stage.

It’s important to remember that thumb sucking does not indicate any physiological or developmental issues as you work to help your child stop. Your child may require your assistance, as well as the assistance of a dentist or pediatrician, to break the habit. However, eliminating thumb sucking behavior is a long-term goal that should be achieved through positive reinforcement rather than punishment.

Thumb sucking is usually harmless in children who do not have permanent teeth. However, as your child’s baby teeth fall out and adult teeth emerge, you should encourage him or her to switch to other forms of comfort.


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