Why Dentists Discourage Thumb-sucking

Thumb-sucking is a natural habit, and often serves the purpose of soothing or comforting a baby or toddler as they start to fall asleep. However, your Dallas pediatric dentist, as well as the American Dental Association and others, know that thumb-sucking can be a detriment to the healthy oral development of young teeth and jaw structure. There are solid reasons to discourage thumb-sucking, for the optimal oral health of our child, as well as extended pacifier use, as your child develops.

Thumb-sucking Can Affect Young Teeth

The primary reason to gently help your child find other ways to soothe or deal with boredom, is that the suction from sucking, as well as having an object in the mouth, can impact the formation or oral structures, and the alignment of baby and permanent teeth. Thumb-sucking can lead to changes in the roof of the mouth, and cause teeth to be pushed out of correct positioning over time.

Other Thumb-sucking Drawbacks

While it is unlikely to cause a true dental emergency, there have been instances of scratched cheeks and gums, or accidental bites, if a toddler is learning to walk and sucking a thumb at the same time. Any object in a child’s mouth can be a problem, when an unexpected tumble occurs.

What Can I Do to Help Curb This Habit?

In general, it is helpful to find the situations where your child may feel worried, and work to eliminate those triggers. If the thumb is a bedtime habit, work towards other soothing night time comforts, such as a small blanket or lovey. Our trusted staff is experienced in caring for young dental patients, and can offer suggestions at any checkup appointment. 

Thumb-sucking Can Be a Detriment to Correct Oral Development

Although thumb-sucking is not a cause for immediate alarm, it can have a negative impact on your child’s smile in the long term. If you have questions or need suggestions for how to manage this habit in your child, contact our office at 214-321-4880. We proudly welcome patients from Dallas, TX, and all surrounding communities, including Casa Linda, Lakewood, Lake Highlands, Forest Hills, East Dallas, Mesquite, Garland, Richardson, and more.