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  • Writer's pictureGaby

Thumb Sucking & Thumb Sucking Appliance

Thumb sucking is a common behavior in infants and young children. It is a natural reflex that provides comfort and helps self-soothe. Most children outgrow thumb sucking on their own, typically by the age of 4 or 5. However, if thumb sucking persists beyond this age, it can lead to dental and orthodontic issues.

Prolonged thumb sucking can cause problems such as:

  1. Dental misalignment: Thumb sucking can lead to the misalignment of teeth, causing an open bite, overbite, or other orthodontic issues.

  2. Speech problems: Prolonged thumb sucking may also contribute to speech difficulties in some children.

  3. Skin problems: Constant exposure to moisture from saliva can lead to skin problems around the thumb.

To address persistent thumb sucking, a dentist or orthodontist may recommend the use of a thumb sucking appliance. A thumb sucking appliance is a device designed to discourage the habit by making thumb sucking less satisfying as the thumb no longer has a resting place in the mouth. There are various types of thumb sucking appliances, including:

  1. Thumb guards: These are devices that wrap around the thumb, making it difficult for the child to suck their thumb comfortably.

  2. Thumb Sucking Appliance: This appliance prevents placement of the thumb into the mouth in a comfortable and soothing position.

  3. Behavioral interventions: Positive reinforcement and behavioral techniques may also be employed to encourage the child to stop thumb sucking.

"Due to the damaging changes to the jaw bone and teeth that a persistent thumb sucking habit can cause, I would argue that a custom made habit appliance should be the first line of therapy". -Dr Jesse McGuire

It's essential to approach the issue of thumb sucking with sensitivity and understanding. Parents should avoid negative reinforcement or punishment, as these methods may not be effective and can be counterproductive. If your child is older than 3-5 and are still thumb sucking a thumbsucking appliance should be immediately explored. It's advisable to consult with a pediatric dentist or orthodontist. They can assess the situation and provide guidance on the most appropriate approach for your child's specific needs.

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