Dentist’s Service Tips

Effects Of Thumb Sucking Beyond The Age 5

August 6, 2019

Orthodontists encourage early orthodontic treatments to take advantage of the child’s natural growth process. There are several teeth problems that can be treated through jaw expanders like crossbite, overcrowding and impacted teeth. The jaw expander will create more space in the child’s mouth by gradually widening the upper jaw.

One of the concerns of parents who visit the orthodontist is thumb sucking. Most infants and toddlers suck their thumb or fingers and will stop by the time they reach 5 years old. At age 6, the child’s baby teeth are lost and permanent teeth start to erupt. If thumb sucking continues until age 6, it must be cause of concern for parents because the opening in the bite where the thumb or finger rests will result to protruding front teeth.

Thumb sucking is a difficult habit to break particularly when the child uses it to self-soothe since birth. Kids usually learn that thumb sucking is not socially acceptable during elementary school. They stop from thumb sucking in school but continue with the habit while sleeping or watching TV. Stopping the habit may be desirable for parents but they tend to scold the child constantly which puts a strain on the relationship.

It is very difficult for a child to stop the habit of thumb sucking but the orthodontist can provide a reminder tool so that the child will give up the habit. For children who have almost broken the habit, Mavala Stop, a very bitter and transparent nail polish that can be applied on the thumbs can be recommended. All items that are associated with the habit are removed like soothing toys, stuffed animals and blankets.

An oral appliance like jaw expanders or upper braces may be prescribed to reverse the effects of thumb sucking beyond the age of 5 or 6 years. Thumb sucking can push the teeth around to cause an overbite or underbite to form. It can also affect the positioning of the jaw bone. The troublesome habit has to be stopped with encouragement and positive reinforcement so that the child will have straight teeth and beautiful smile when he reaches adulthood.