Why You Need To Help Your Child Stop Sucking Their Thumb

Thumb-sucking is something that’s really common in children, and you might not think it’s too much of an issue; many parents even think it’s cute and don’t mind it at all. However, although it might seem to be entirely harmless at first, over time, thumb-sucking can have some lasting negative effects on a variety of different areas of the body. As a parent, it’s important to understand what these issues are so you can step in and help your child stop sucking their thumb sooner rather than later. With that in mind, keep reading to find out more. 

Oral Health Concerns

Thumb sucking can lead to big problems for your child’s oral health, which can become painful, awkward, and, not to put too fine a point on it, expensive to deal with. When a child sucks their thumb, the pressure that’s put on the gums and the roof of the mouth can cause the teeth to become crooked, leading to things like an overbite or an open bite – both need to be fixed. Then, as your child’s adult teeth come through, thumb sucking can interfere with how the teeth develop, and that means, more often than not, the child is going to need braces to put things right. 

If you can encourage your child to stop sucking their thumb early, ideally when they still have their milk teeth, you can keep their teeth in better shape. Combined with a good tooth-brushing routine, flossing, and not eating too many sugary snacks, their teeth should grow well. This Avon Lake OH dentist also recommends bringing them to the dentist twice a year.

Oral Hygiene Problems

Thumb sucking involves constant contact between the thumb and the mouth, which can introduce germs and bacteria into the oral cavity. This can increase the likelihood of an infection, which is extremely painful for children and adults alike. On top of this, since the lips can around the mouth can get moist due to thumb sucking, this area can also become chapped and sore, and your child might develop infections there too. 

As well as keeping their teeth in good shape in a literal sense, when a child stops sucking their thumb, they also reduce the risk of infections in the mouth, so it has to be worth trying. 

Speech Development Issues

Thumb sucking can also cause problems when it comes to speech development because the thumb can affect the position of the thumb. That means the tongue never moves in the right way, so the right tongue movements to pronounce various words never get learned, and speech is delayed or very unclear. 

Although your child will learn to speak sooner or later, even if they suck their thumb (which is why many parents don’t realise it’s a problem), the speech problems they develop might stay with them for the rest of their lives, causing them to be withdrawn and shy, and making their social interactions more difficult. This is bad enough in childhood, but as an adult, it can cost relationships and even careers. Helping your child overcome their thumb-sucking habit can help them gain confidence and be able to deal with social situations much more easily. 

Ear Infections 

One often overlooked reason to help your child stop thumb-sucking is that it can lead to ear infections. When a child sucks their thumb, they can introduce all kinds of nasty bacteria and germs into their mouth, as we’ve seen above, but sometimes these bacteria then travel through the eustachian tubes (the tubes that connect the throat to the ear). In young children, these tubes are shorter than in adults, and they’re more horizontal, meaning they can get blocked more easily and become infected – germs and bacteria can cause blockages and infections, so it’s almost guaranteed that a child who sucks their thumb will get ear infections are some point. 

If you’re interested in children’s ear infections prevention, there are lots of different things you can try and reasons for the infection in the first place, but one thing you might not have thought of is your child’s thumb sucking, and helping them to stop and break the habit could mean no more painful ear infections to have to cope with too.  

Emotional Development 

When you stop your child from sucking their thumb, you’ll have the perfect opportunity to help them stop relying on their thumb for emotional support and development, and instead show them they can do it all themselves, without anything else to depend on. 

Children who suck their thumbs for a long time might feel utterly lost when they’re not longer doing it, and it can even cause emotional trauma and mental health issues in some (although there may well be other underlying causes that make this worse). The earlier it’s stopped, the less of an issue it will be, so as a parent, it’s wise to get started on breaking this habit right away.

We are not doctors and this is in no way intended to be used as medical advice and we cannot be held responsible for your results. As with any product, service or supplement, use at your own risk. Always do your own research before using.

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