Thumb Sucking

Does your child still suck her thumb? While this habit usually goes as your child grows older, it's best to nip it in the bud.   

Nandita is a 32 year old woman. She has a good job, is married, and has one child. She's a friendly woman, seems confident, is successful, and is happy. But Nandita has one strange habit. She still sucks her thumb. Every time things aren't going the way she would like them to, or if she's worried, tense or confused, her thumb finds its way to her mouth. Be it in the security of her bed or at a board meeting, this habit doesn't go away. Her colleagues mock her, and she's frequently the butt of jokes. Of course, she's taken it all in her stride and she probably won't change now, but she's sure of one thing. This is one habit she's not going to let her daughter develop.


Thumb Sucking

You needn't worry too much about thumb sucking as most children do kick the habit before the age of 5. But if your child is past the age of 6 and still shows no sign of reducing her thumb sucking, there may be a slight cause for concern. 

This this will almost definitely have an effect on her permanent teeth, so if you manage to get her to stop much before this age, there's nothing like it. In fact, some schools of thought are of the opinion that thumb sucking should be stopped as early as possible. 

You should consult your dentist, and let your dentist have a word with your child. 

A person's teeth - and facial features for that matter - develop the most when the person is between the ages of 4 and 14. Dental structures start getting formed from the age of 5, as this is when the permanent teeth slowly start appearing. Now if your child is still sucking her thumb, she is interfering with the natural growth of her teeth. 

An Overbite

Your child is almost certain to develop an overbite, which is when the upper row of teeth juts out over the lower layer of teeth. She may even develop Bugs Bunny teeth, where her front two teeth jut out prominently.  

Lisp

A poor alignment of teeth will almost certainly lead to some speech disorders, and could lead to a lisp. Even if she has braces later on in life, the habit of lisping might never go. 

To test the extent of damage caused by thumb sucking, a dental group studied around 400 babies in Iowa, United Stated, until the age of four.  

The researchers regularly questioned the parents about their children's thumb sucking habits. After the age of four, models were made of the children's teeth. 

Needless to say, the teeth of those kids who stopped sucking their thumb before they turned one, were in pretty good shape. Damage to the teeth increased amongst approximately 6% of the kids who stopped sucking their thumb by the age of 2. Crossbite and overbite were more prevalent by 13 percent amongst those kids who stopped thumb sucking between the ages of 2 and 3, and this figure increased to 20 percent, in the group of kids who were still sucking their thumbs. 

While most of this damage is caused to the child's baby teeth, there is a chance that it will affect the permanent teeth as well - especially if the child continues sucking her thumb after the age of six. 

Thus, this is one habit which is best nipped in the bud.