Published on August 13, 2021, Updated on October 7, 2021
As a natural reflex for infants and kids, thumb sucking serves as a sense of protection when they are worried or stressed since this habit gives them a soothing experience. They also have the inclination to suck their thumbs when they are feeling happy. However, if this childhood habit continues for a long time, it may have negative effects on a child’s teeth alignment and jaw development.
Here’s the complications of persistent thumb sucking
A child’s jaws develop around what is regularly held within his or her mouth. By not correcting this common habit, your kid may develop malocclusions or bite issues. There are also other various complications of consistent thumb sucking like:
Overbite or Buck Teeth – This kind of dental problem or malocclusion is characterized by the upper teeth protruding about 2mm because of jaw misalignment. This is the result of the continuous sucking of the thumb even when a kid reaches 2 years old. Some children have this habit even when they are 5 or older which leads to more problems as soon as their permanent teeth erupt.
Speech Disorder – The tongue moves in a forward and backward manner when a kid sucks his or her thumb. Repeatedly sucking the thumb may cause your child to develop lisps which can cause issues when they speak as well as suffer some problems when they swallow.
Open bite – This complication happens when the teeth are not properly aligned as the mouth closes. The misalignment of the teeth is caused by the repetitive action of placing the thumb in between the teeth.
Increased sensitivity of the roof of the mouth – Thumb sucking can cause the palate to become a bit more sensitive due to the fact that the thumb regularly touches the roof of the mouth.
Breathing problems – Although it may not be too noticeable, alterations in your kid’s breathing patterns are likely to occur due to jaw misalignment. This is because when the roof of the mouth is higher and more narrow, the sinus passages, as well as the nasal structure, are affected resulting in complications in breathing.
Altered jaw shape – When young ones suck their thumbs, the position of the tongue is lowered creating even more stress on the jaw. This increased pressure can lead to significant changes to the upper jaw making the roof of the mouth higher and narrow. When strong pressure is applied to the jaw frequently, the shape of the jaw will more likely undergo some changes and make it underdeveloped.
Distortion of the Face’s Structure – Since thumb sucking causes the shape and alignment of a child’s jaw to change, it may also result in some abnormal changes in the kid’s facial structure.
Bacterial Infection – Sucking the thumb (regardless of whether it is clean or not) has a higher chance of germs or bacteria entering your kid’s body which may lead to infection.
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