Suwanee, GA Orthodontist Answers: Does Thumb Sucking Mean Braces?

thumb sucking leads to braces and orthodonticsBabies are born with a sucking reflex, which helps to establish proper feeding. However, this strong behavior dissipates after about 4 months. At this point, it becomes a soothing mechanism for many babies. While some babies adapt to the use of a pacifier, others find that their thumb does the job just fine. The question many parents have, however, is when to worry about a thumb sucking habit. While it may be quite convenient at first to know that your baby can self-soothe using their thumb, it can quickly become a source of concern if the behavior continues into toddlerhood or later.

When it comes to the impact that thumb sucking can have on your child’s bite alignment and speech, the effects are directly related to the age of your child. Most kids kick the habit between ages 2 and 4, and there is typically no harm done at this point. However, you have reason to worry if your child is still sucking his or her thumb by the time kindergarten rolls around. Around the age of 6 or 7, the adult teeth will begin to erupt and the alignment of the front teeth can be significantly compromised if thumb sucking is still present.

If your child is still relying on thumb sucking as a self-soothing habit, either during the day or during the night, the following long-term effects can occur:

  • Overbite or underbite development
  • A lisp or other speech difficulties
  • Jaw positioning problems
  • Sensitive or altered roof of the mouth
  • Susceptibility to sickness due to germs

When older children suck their thumb, it is typically an emotional response. Therefore, the first step to helping your child break the habit may involve getting to the root of why and when they resort to this behavior. In some cases, it may be helpful to distract your child during times that they would normally suck their thumb or replace it with another soothing mechanism. Do your best not add stress to your child by nagging them or punishing them for thumb sucking.

If your child’s thumb sucking habit has already produced consequences within their bite or teeth formation, we can help. At Walton Orthodontics, we routinely work with children who either engaged in the behavior too long or need help breaking their thumb sucking habit. There are special appliances that can be placed in the roof of the mouth to discourage thumb sucking. In addition, we have a full menu of orthodontic treatments that can realign the teeth and correct underbites and overbites.

Walton Orthodontics
2609 Peachtree Pkwy, #C
Suwanee, GA 30024
(770) 663-0955

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Dr. Walton, our 5-star rated Suwanee, GA, orthodontist specializes in orthodontic care for you or your child with the most advanced types of braces for children, teens, and adults. These types of braces include metal braces, clear braces, Invisalign, Invisalign Teen, Damon braces, In-Ovation braces, braces behind your teeth and short-term braces. Visit our convenient Suwanee orthodontic office serving patients in Suwanee, Cumming, Johns Creek, Alpharetta, Duluth and Milton, GA. Call 770.663.0955 today for your or your child's complimentary, no-obligation consultation for braces or Invisalign today!

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