Thumb sucking and how it affects your child’s teeth

Thumb sucking and how it affects your child’s teeth

Dental issues are a huge concern for millions of Americans. One in five have some sort of improper bite or malocclusion. Not all are severe enough to cause the person to run out to the orthodontist, but others are living with embarrassing, painful, and life-altering issues that affect how they look, feel, behave, and live life.

Parents can take comfort in knowing that modern pediatric orthodontics can correct such issues early. Addressing these issues, such as misaligned bites, early with braces and other orthodontic treatment plans can also help to mitigate unwanted side effects, such as cavities. The big question is how do you know if your child could benefit from an orthodontist appointment? The following signs are good indicators that your child should see an orthodontist today.

1. They Sucked/Suck Their Thumb

Thumb-sucking is a common habit, and it’s a habit that can be hard to break if the child continues to do it past the toddler years. Around 75% of all babies suck their thumb. It’s a natural self-soothing mechanism that’s related to rooting and sucking to feed. In most cases, babies learn alternative measures to replace the comfort of thumb-sucking, but some kids retain the habit past teething age and even into their adult teeth emerging. This is when it becomes particularly problematic in increasing the risk of malocclusions like cross bites and overbites. It’s always best to get children who’ve sucked their thumb after they’ve started to get teeth checked by an orthodontist, especially if it’s continued into the permanent teeth phase of life.

2. Their Teeth Are Crooked

Overlapping, twisted, and otherwise out of place teeth are all red flags that your child may need pediatric braces. Crooked teeth can occur for a number of reasons. The most common is the size of the child’s mouth being too narrow or too small to accommodate all their teeth. As a result, the crowded teeth had to shift and displace as they were emerging.

3. They’re Mouth Breathers

Children predominantly breathing through their mouth is a sign of a blocked nasal passage. Allergies, jaw size/shape irregularities, and enlarged tonsils are common causes of the obstruction. Humans aren’t designed to be long-term mouth breathers, and the action can cause issues with facial muscles. The imbalance can impact the shape of the face, the tongue’s natural position and movement, and even shift teeth from their normal position. The tongue, for example, begins to drop lower instead of naturally testing against the roof of the mouth, which then creates pressure on the lower teeth to jut out. With the above said, do keep in mind that it can be malocclusion that causes mouth breathing verses the other way around. So, it’s very important for children routinely breathing via their mouth to be seen by an orthodontist for evaluation. 4.

4. They Bite Their Cheeks Often

Everyone has accidentally bitten the side of their mouth, but it happening frequently can be a sign of an orthodontic issue. It’s often due to improper jaw alignment causing the teeth to bite down too closely to the cheek. Left untreated, the cheek can be severely injured and even become infected.

5. They Have Gaps Between Their Teeth

Tooth gaps, also called diastema, is often the result of teeth that are too small for the child’s jaw bone. Of course, thumb-sucking is also a culprit. In either case, the orthodontist can use braces to help close the gaps and create a full and beautiful smile.

6. Their Upper Teeth Overly Overlap Their Lower Teeth

It’s called an overbite. It can be caused by the child’s upper jaw being larger than its lower counterpart, or it can be the result of thumb-sucking shifting the upper teeth outward. Again, an orthodontist can advise the best timing and approach to treatment for children with mild to severe overbites.

7. Their Lower Teeth Extend Past Their Upper Teeth

It’s called an underbite. Thumb-sucking, bone structure, and prolonged bottle or pacifier usage can be the reasoning behind this type of malocclusion. Left untreated, the problem can become much more than an aesthetic concern. The teeth being in this unnatural position further strains the jaw, which can be painful and make eating and managing slobber difficult. Make an appointment with a dental professional as soon as possible.

8. Their Jaw Makes An Odd Noise

The jaw is like a door hinge. It should open and close without much effort or noise. Clicking sounds and pain upon jaw movement are signs of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD,) which can easily be treated with braces.

9. They Complain About Mouth Pain

A proper bite is essential to eating, talking, chewing, swallowing, and all other mouth actions. Bite is disrupted by many malocclusions. If discomfort or pain is present, then it’s a sure sign that the child could greatly benefit from an orthodontist appointment to determine the causative factor and develop a comprehensive treatment plan to correct it.

In closing, there are many dental issues that can impact your child’s future oral health and wellbeing and cause them to need braces. If you suspect any of these problems, schedule an appointment with a trusted provider today. It’s also recommended to schedule that first proactive orthodontist appointment before your child’s eighth birthday so that any emerging problems can be identified and addressed before they become apparent or an outright complaint.