What a Parent Should Know
When you hear a number of conflicting opinions about how to treat a problem it can slow down your decision making about what you should do. Parents hear many different opinions about how to treat their childâ€™s thumb sucking. Some donâ€™t seem concerned while others recommend that parents try to help their children stop the habit. Armed with real information parents can make the best decision.
Thumb sucking starts out as an instinct, but for many children it turns into a habit they canâ€™t stop well past toddlerhood. Some even carry this habit into school age. There are reasons this can cause real problems according to some experts. Namely, those in the field of dentistry worry about the effects of a child sucking his or her thumb causing permanent problems in the development of a childâ€™s mouth and jaw.
Malocclusion is a term, dentistry uses to describe the incorrect meeting of the two dental arches. Commonly this issue will cause the teeth to meet unevenly and the wear and tear on the teeth when chewing will be uneven. Children with this problem will usually need braces in order to correct it since it can put pressure on the temporomanbdibular joint, and the crowding of the teeth can cause decay.
It was once thought that only when the permanent teeth came in would thumb sucking affect the alignment or placement of the teeth. It can now be seen through that as early as two or three the mouth can be pulled and the shape subtly changed by thumb sucking.
The upper part of the mouth or palate pulled at every day through the action of thumb sucking can become malformed. This causes issues for the teeth and the placement of the tongue while eating. It can also lead to speech problems such as a lisp. Sometimes a child might need speech therapy in order to correctly form words.
By the time permanent teeth come in the damage might already be done in the way the mouth has been pulled and realigned from the thumb sucking. This can happen especially if the habit is engaged in during the day and at night.
These are some of the very issues that a child can face while still very young in life. It is for this reason that many in the medical field are now looking at thumb sucking in a new light. Most agree that discouraging a child from thumb sucking if done properly doesnâ€™t cause the child any long lasting problems, while allowing the habit to continue definitely can.
Gently talking a child into stopping thumb sucking is an answer to this issue, and can spare the child much later. There are treatments that can help a child stop the habit. You can use products that aid a small toddler to understand that the thumb is not desirable with an easy to use product like Control It! that makes the thumb taste unappealing to a toddler and lets the little person have the opportunity to find other ways to soothe, calm down, and find comfort that donâ€™t involve this habit. The earlier a child finds other methods to relief tension, or discomforts the better for the child.
Using positive reinforcement and praise the process of aiding a child to move passed thumb sucking can be effected without too much tension. Most children will lose the habit easily if they are given choices other than the thumb as relief from anxiety or fatigue. In the long run, as a child moves from day care to pre-kindergarten having lost the habit of sucking a thumb can prove a benefit in that he or she will have fewer problems adjusting.Tweet