Finger or thumb sucking can be a way for children to find comfort; however, in many cases it can also affect a child’s teeth, jaw, and speech. Three of the most common affects of finger or thumb sucking are:
- An overbite: a protrusion of the upper front teeth.
- An openbite: the front teeth do not come together (accommodating the thumb or finger).
- Posterior crossbite: the upper teeth move inside the lower teeth.
In these cases, orthodontics (braces) may be necessary to resume health and normal function. These cases can become more complex for a child who’s finger or thumb sucking habit is affecting his/her permanent teeth. Eliminating this habit early can help in preventing a need for orthodontic treatment.
Parents can first help their child to overcome this habit by being patient. There is no one thing that works for every child and you will likely try a few things before one eventually works. Help your child become self-aware of the habit and empower them with the courage to keep from sucking his/her finger or thumb on his/her own. Another idea is a reward chart with a specific date to achieve his/her goal and win a prize, become a “big boy, or have a celebration. It is a good idea to make your child’s dentist and hygienist aware of this habit so any movement of the teeth can be monitored at each visit to the dentist. Schedule your child’s visit today!