Thumb-sucking is a common activity often thought to be cute and seemingly innocent. However, it can have serious repercussions on a child’s oral health. While it’s a natural behavior, thumb-sucking can lead to malformation of the teeth, jaw misalignment, and even speech problems if left unchecked. In addition, the long-term effects can result in costly orthodontic treatments to correct the results of prolonged thumb-sucking. Take steps to prevent future oral health issues and read more about the effects of thumb-sucking from our Gainesville dentists.

For dental care services for you and your family, contact our dentists in Gainesville, FL, to schedule an appointment today.

What Are The Oral Health Impacts Of Thumb-Sucking?

Thumb-sucking can have short and long-term effects on an individual’s oral health, including the following

  • Misalignment of teeth. Thumb-sucking can cause teeth to become misaligned or crooked, leading to jaw pain and chewing problems.
  • Increase in plaque. Thumb-sucking increases saliva production, which can lead to an increase in plaque build-up and potential cavities.
  • Increased risk of infection. Unclean hands can quickly spread bacteria and germs in the mouth and weaken the immune system.
  • Changes in the palate shape. Prolonged thumb-sucking can change the shape of the hard palate and upper jaw.
  • Speech impediments. Vibrations caused by thumb-sucking can interfere with normal speech development if it continues after age five.

How To Promote Good Dental Habits With Children

Promoting good dental habits with children starts early and should be ongoing. To reduce the negative oral health impacts associated with thumb-sucking, parents need to discourage their children from doing so after the age of two or three.  Parents can find alternatives to satisfy their child’s needs for comfort that do not involve thumb-sucking, such as blankets or stuffed animals.  Parents can also help their children establish a consistent dental routine, such as brushing and flossing at least twice a day and avoiding sugary snacks between meals. With consistency and patience, parents can empower their children to take ownership of their oral health from an early age. For child-friendly dental services, contact our Gainesville dentists at Comprehensive Dental Care to schedule an appointment.