Is Your Child A Thumb Sucker?

If your child is a thumb sucker you may well be worrying yourself gray. Although some parents are actually relieved when they first realize their child sucks their thumb, if they continue sucking after a certain age even they begin to fret. For a young child, thumb sucking is self-calming, which can be good in a way. After all, as a parent you may not need to reinsert the pacifier time and time again throughout the day and night, and you may not need to comfort them for every little thing, and they may be able to fall asleep on their own without crying until you want to pull your hair out. You know what I mean if you are a parent. Today, your Ankeny, IA, family dentist, Dr. Ericka Peddicord, will tell you whether or not you need to worry about your child’s thumb sucking.

Should You Worry?

If your child sucks their thumb during infancy it is unlikely it will affect their baby teeth. Going to bed with a bottle can be far more serious. There seems to be general agreement regarding when you should begin to worry about your child’s thumb sucking. If your child has not given up their thumb sucking habit by the age of six, then you can begin to worry. Before your child loses their baby teeth, thumb sucking is really not that big of an issue. It’s when they’ve lost their baby teeth and their permanent teeth are beginning to erupt that it becomes a serious issue. If they are still sucking when they have permanent teeth it can result in:

  • Buck Teeth
  • Malocclusion which includes but is not limited to: crowding, overjet, crossbite, and underbite
  • Structural damage to the roof of the mouth
  • Lisp or other speech impairment

Major Factors

There are two major factors that will determine whether your child’s thumb sucking will cause damage to their permanent dentition. They are age and intensity.

  • Age: At about age six most children will begin getting their permanent teeth. If your child is still sucking his or her thumb, it needs to be addressed. The longer the child sucks with permanent teeth, the more likely it will result in damage.
  • Intensity: The force the child sucks also makes a difference. For instance, there will likely be less or no damage if the child sucks only occasionally (before bed, during times of stress) and it is a loose or light suck. If the child is an intense thumb sucker, meaning they suck forcefully and for long periods of time, it is likely there will be more extensive damage.

Sometimes the damage (buck teeth, spaces in the teeth) may correct itself as other permanent teeth erupt. Other times orthodontic treatment may be required.   

About Your Ankeny Dentist

Dr. Peddicord offers a complete range of preventative, cosmetic, and restorative dental procedures as well as high quality dental prosthetics. Dr. Peddicord can answer your inquiries, and provide the services you need to maintain the health, beauty, and function of your teeth. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Erika Peddicord, please contact us at 515-963-3339. Our Ankeny, IA, office proudly provides general and cosmetic dentistry services to patients from Bondurant, Polk City, Elkhart, Alleman, and Cambridge.