What Moms Need to Know :: Thumb Sucking and Orthodontics

Disclosure :: This post is sponsored by Sherman & Balhoff. 

What Moms Need to Know :: Thumb Sucking and Orthodontics

Along with teddy bears, blankets, and nap time, thumb-sucking can be one of the most comforting aspects of childhood. According What Moms Need to Know :: Thumb Sucking and Orthodonticsto a recent report, between 75% and 95% of infants suck their thumbs. So, chances are there’s a thumb-sucker (or a former thumb-sucker) in your family. In most cases, this is not cause for worry. However, it’s important to pay attention to your child’s habits, in case his or her behavior has the potential to affect their oral health. Continued thumb sucking can affect the shape and size of the developing upper jaw bone and can create a protrusion of the teeth.

What is Thumb Sucking?

Sucking is a natural reflex for an infant, and it serves an important purpose. Sucking often provides a sense of security and contentment for a young one. It can also be relaxing, which is why many children suck their thumbs as they fall asleep. According to the American Dental Association, most children stop thumb sucking on their own between the ages of two and four. 

When is Thumb Sucking a Problem or an Orthodontic Issue?

Some children, however, continue sucking beyond the preschool years. If your child is still sucking when his permanent teeth start to erupt, it is time to take action to break or change the course of the habit. It is very common for children to stop after being told by their pediatric dentist or orthodontist. A useful tool in aiding them in breaking their thumb-sucking habit is a product called Mavala Stop. This is an extremely bitter formula that you paint on like nail polish. Mavala stop can be purchased online, through our office, or through your pediatric dentist. 

When Do I Need to Seek a Professional Evaluation?

The AAO – American Association of Orthodontists, along with Dr. Sherman and Dr. Balhoff, recommends that a child’s first visit to an orthodontic specialist should occur no later than age seven. Children who suck their thumbs may benefit from an orthodontic evaluation as early as four or five years of age. An early orthodontic examination can be a valuable preventative measure in controlling dental and skeletal irregularities in a growing child, like those caused by thumb sucking. While most children do not start treatment at this time, early treatment and management of a patient’s skeletal growth before most of the permanent teeth have erupted or simple interceptive treatment to control harmful habits.  Some preventative treatment may be indicated including limited braces, thumb cribs, or rapid palatal expanders. Such early, interceptive treatment can allow the jaws and the permanent teeth to grow more properly. This may reduce additional orthodontic treatment potentially needed if thumb-sucking is continued. In some cases, proper treatment timing can achieve results that are not easily attained once the face and jaws have finished growing. Even if your child is not a thumb-sucker, it is still important to see an orthodontist by the age of seven.   

Are you looking to learn more? Contact Sherman & Balhoff  today for a complimentary consultation. Call (225) 769-1276 and let them know that Red Stick Moms Blog (RSMB) sent you. 

Dr. David A. Balhoff is a private practice Orthodontic Specialist with Dr. Steve Sherman in the Baton Rouge, Central, and Geismar areas. He is dedicated to continuing his education in orthodontics and staying up-to-date with the latest technological advancements in his specialty.  Along with his dedication to his orthodontic practice, he is a member of the American Cleft Palate and Craniofacial Association (ACPA) and is also a team member of the Our Lady of the Lake Cleft Palate and Craniofacial Team. Dr. Balhoff lives in in Baton Rouge with his wife, Leah, and their three sons: Thomas, Andrew, and Henry.

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