Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The downside of thumb sucking

Pediatric dentists are issuing new warnings about long-term thumb sucking. While the thoughts on this used to be that damage from thumb sucking only occurred if the activity continued after a child got his/her permanent teeth, that is no longer the opinion of experts.

A child who sucks his/her thumb beyond the age of 2 or 3 can be setting the stage for lifelong problems.
Let’s look at what’s actually happening when the thumb sucking is going on. Pressure is being applied to both sides of the upper jaw. Additionally, the soft tissue on the roof of the mouth is affected.

If the upper jaw narrows as a result of this, the upper and lower teeth will not be properly aligned. This can cause a variety of speech issues which can lead to costly corrective measures, such as braces and/or speech therapy. The structure of the jaw and mouth can be affected as the child matures and problems with chewing can ensue.

Unfortunately, the solution isn't popping a pacifier in your little one's mouth, as similar problems can arise from the prolonged use of pacifiers as well. The advantage with a pacifier, however, is that it is easier to break a child of his/her need for a binky by simply removing it. Cutting off thumbs is generally not a good practice!

So what’s a parent to do? Tomorrow I’ll give you some tips on stopping the sucking.

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