Pediatric orthodontics: on bad habits

Many babies find thumb sucking a soothing activity. Unfortunately, it quickly becomes addictive and parents find it difficult to curve their baby’s bad habit. It is scientifically proven than exaggerated thumb sucking can lead to serious orthodontic issues.

Is it natural? Why is my baby doing that?

Even during prenatal visits to the obstetrician, future parents often notice their unborn child is sucking her thumb while waiting in her mother’s womb. Thumb sucking is a natural tendency. Later, as the new born becomes gradually aware of the environment, sucking turns into a method of knowledge, in other words, sucking her toy, her clothes, and her fingers is her approach of the world at the time. When baby teeth come out, her gums are in pain and your baby will enjoy sucking even more. Most of the times, there’s no reason to worry, as small children spontaneously give up their sucking habit before it starts affecting their teeth.

What is the danger?

Lots of mothers are quite calm about the matter, as “this is what babies do”. Yet, responsible parents keep in mind that too much thumb sucking can lead to abnormalities of the oral cavity, including the roof of the mouth, and misalignment of teeth.

When should a parent take measures against thumb sucking?

Although it is a perfectly natural action, this kind of behavior should not be encouraged. Do not allow your baby to suck her thumb at all times, sleep with her thumb in the mouth, etc. Provided that all her baby teeth have erupted, and your baby is still sucking her thumb, it’s high time you did something about it.

Meanwhile, take a closer look at your baby; see how much pressure she puts. If she just keeps her finger in the mouth passively, the risks are smaller.

What to do?

Unfortunately, there is no universal formula to work with all children. You’ll need to find a solution that works for your child. According to age and comprehension abilities of your child, you can either explain that he or she has grown and changed, encourage the child in his activities and position as “big boy / big girl”, or, provided that he or she cannot understand these arguments yet, try to distract the child’s attention.

What you should not do?

Do not scold the child and do your best not to make her feel embarrassed as she will find comfort in the handiest gesture that calms her down and soothes her. Also, when explaining what could happen if she continues to suck her thumb, never frighten the child about dental visits.

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