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Thumb Sucking – Bethel Park, PA

Prevent the Negative Effects of Prolonged Thumb Sucking

Boy sucking thumb

Thumb sucking is an incredibly common habit that your infant may develop. This is a way for them to sooth themselves, allowing them to fall back asleep. In fact, infants who suck their thumb tend to sleep better than those who don’t. While this habit may seem cute, and it even offers some benefits, if it lasts longer than 4 to 5 years of age, it can actually cause serious issues for your son or daughter’s development. Thankfully, Dr. Gary Cartwright offers personalized solutions to treat the effects of prolonged thumb sucking. Read on to learn more about this issue and how we can help.

Should You Discourage Thumb Sucking?

Baby on back looking at camera

About 90% of infants start sucking their thumb within 2 hours after birth. This habit should generally be no cause for concern because around 94% of kids stop sucking their thumb on their own before they turn 1. And, if the habit isn’t broken then, your son or daughter will usually stop between ages 2 and 4. If thumb sucking is still occurring after their 4th or 5th birthday, it may be cause for concern.

According to the American Dental Association, thumb sucking isn’t a real problem until your child’s front teeth have erupted. If this habit continues, it can lead to protruding front teeth or malocclusion issues like an open bite. The frequency and intensity of the thumb sucking will also impact how negative its effects are. This prolonged habit can impact the growth of your son or daughter’s mouth, such as the roof. 

Can the Consequences of Thumb Sucking be Reversed?

Boy smiling in dental chair

Thankfully, if your child does suffer negative effects from thumb sucking, Dr. Cartwright can restore their health. He offers phase 1 orthodontics as a way to intervene and move teeth into their ideal position. This may include the use of partial braces to help shape their mouth properly. We also have orthodontic appliances that can be used to help children avoid sucking their thumbs. This is done by placing a wire device behind the upper front teeth to prevent the thumb from resting on the palate.

The best way to know which treatment is best for your son or daughter is to come into our office for a consultation. Dr. Cartwright will carefully examine their mouth before developing a personalized treatment plan.

How Can You Stop Thumb Sucking?

Infant smiling

If you notice thumb sucking or are concerned about this habit, contact our office to discuss the problem with Dr. Cartwright. Additionally, here are some steps you can take at home to discourage it:

  • Praise or reward your child for not sucking their thumb.
  • Help your son or daughter find a self-soothing alternative.
  • Stay positive and always encourage your child to break this habit.

If you’re concerned about your child’s thumb sucking, contact our office. Dr. Cartwright is experienced in treating this problem, and he will provide your kid with the attention they deserve.