How Thumb Sucking can affect your Child’s looks and their Health

affects of thumb sucking

affects of thumb suckingKnoxville and Maryville, TN

Do you have a young child who sucks their thumb or finger? You’re not alone. This habit is quite common at an early age, but when it persists, this sucking behavior can cause big problems for your child’s oral health, as well as their development. Your family dentists in Maryville at Crestview Dental Care are here to review the potential hazards of thumb sucking, and the specific threat this habit poses to children as they develop.

Like any habit, thumb sucking is tougher to break the longer it continues

Some begin sucking their thumb while in the womb. Babies who suck their thumb actually can use the habit to strength the muscles of their developing mouth, face, and jaw. After that, thumb sucking usually becomes a method of self-soothing, more than anything else. Most children stop sucking their thumb on their own. If the behavior usually persists past the age of four or five, social pressure from other kids at school often curtails the habit. However, if thumb sucking continues past this early stage in life, your child may experience issues with their oral health, and even their development.

For children who persist in sucking their thumb, this behavior places additional undue force on their orofacial system

This consistent additional force, over time, might cause the front teeth to tip forward, resulting in an overbite or a crossbite. Regardless of how it might manifest, the resulting bite misalignment can lead to its own set of problems, including a greater likelihood of jaw problems or developing a case of temporomandibular joint disorder.

The possible consequences of thumb sucking don’t end there. Other potential negative impacts on the orofacial system include an altered breathing pattern, problems swallowing, delayed development of speech, or a narrow dental arch and airway. Thumb sucking even can change the way the face and jaws develop, altering the very shape of your child’s face to a less attractive, elongated profile.

Issues with the airway, or having narrower dental arches, could make your child more vulnerable to developing a sleep breathing disorder such as sleep apnea. Estimated to affect millions of children and teenagers in America, sleep apnea can develop in children from a collapse of soft tissue in the airway, swollen tonsils or adenoids, or if there is not enough room for the tongue in the mouth and the tongue slides back into the airway during sleep. Snoring is the major warning sign of sleep apnea, but for children, the sleep breathing disorder also often produces symptoms that mimic a hyperactivity disorder such as ADD or ADHD. If your child has been diagnosed with a hyperactivity disorder and medication and therapy have not remedied their behavior problems, then sleep apnea could be the real cause.

Myofunctional Therapy in Maryville

To correct negative habits such as thumb sucking, myofunctional therapy can be the best option to help your child. Thumb sucking actually is a rather common negative habit that develops as a symptom of an orofacial myofunctional disorder, a category of ailments that refers to any situation where there is a dysfunction related to the muscles of the mouth and face. Thumb sucking, swallowing problems, and tongue thrust also are symptoms that an orofacial myofunctional disorder, or OMD, is present.

The best remedy for thumb sucking or any other OMD is a course of myofunctional therapy. This therapy entails performing a series of simple, painless exercises that work the muscles of the mouth and face, as well as the tongue. A typical course of myofunctional therapy takes about six months to achieve the desired result.

Crestview Dental Care is proud to offer myofunctional therapy as part of our wide range of services. To learn more about this type of therapy, and how it can help your child stop sucking their thumb, call our office at (865) 982-1700.

Crestview Dental Care is here to serve the needs of patients in Knoxville and Maryville, Tennessee.