An infant happily sucking on his/her thumb can be the very epitome of cuteness. You need to start getting worried if the habit does not go away by the time your li'l darling is 4-5 years old, and permanent teeth have started to appear on the gums. Treatment of prolonged thumbsucking problems is a specialized branch of pediatric dentistry - and Confidental Care is the best clinic in Kolkata for that.
Potential Risks Of Thumbsucking
Apparently an innocuous activity, thumbsucking can pose serious threats to the oral health of your kid over time. Among the problems that can crop up due to sucking on thumbs beyond the age of 5, the following are the most risky:
- Misalignment of teeth - The permanent teeth are growing, and continual thumbsucking can affect their proper alignment. Known among dental treatment circles as buck teeth, this can change the shape of the cheek and jawbones. Bad bites and toothaches can also be a concern.
- Delayed teeth formation - There can be many causes behind delayed growth of permanent teeth, and thumbsucking is one of them. The overall mouth growth can get affected too.
- Lisps in speech - At the one-on-one consultations with parents organized at our dental chamber in Kolkata, we highlight this risk the most. Most parents are not aware that unnaturally prolonged thumsucking can lead to a gradual development of lisps. If your child has problems in speaking properly as his/her permanent teeth are growing, kindly book an appointment at our clinic immediately. We have top pediatric dentistry experts to naturally treat speech lisps.
- Abnormalities in the roof of the mouth - Although relatively rare, this is yet another risk of longer-than-normal thumbsucking in children. Painful sores and ulcers also can appear in the roof of the mouth as well as the inside of the cheek.
Please note that your kid sucks his/her thumb to get a secure feeling and/or feels that it is a comfortable way to go off to sleep. It is not a habit you can suddenly, and forcibly, break. Using pacifiers at home (without bothering to consult dental care experts) is not a permanent solution either.
Types Of Thumbsucking & When You Should Worry
We strongly advise all parents to attend at least a couple oral hygiene maintenance consultation sessions organized at Confidental Care. We will train you on how you can differentiate between two different types of thumbsucking:
- Vigorous Thumbsucking - This is the type that can lead to dental and gum problems in future. If you find that the intensity of your child's thumbsucking is unnaturally high, attempts to curb the habit need to start when (s)he is around 4 years in age. Our pediatric dentists adopt non-stressful methods to do away with this habit, before permanent teeth start to appear.
- Mild Thumbsucking - In case your kid is relatively passive while putting his/her thumb inside the mouth, you need not worry too much (provided, of course, the habit goes away by the time (s)he is 6-7 years old). In many cases, as the child starts going to school - such passive thumbsucking goes away on its own, thanks to peer pressure and fear of being embarrassed.
How Does Confidental Treat Thumbsucking Problems?
Unlike most other dental problems in kids, prolonged thumbsucking requires treatment that is more habitual/psychological in nature. Pediatric oral care experts at our clinic in Kolkata generally prescribe:
- Using a mouthguard to make sure thumbsucking does not cause damage to the teeth and gums.
- Application of a bitter cream/coating on the thumb of the kid. The unpleasant taste would prevent him/her from continuing with the thumbsucking habit.
- Wrapping the thumb and (if required) other fingers with a bandage.
- Putting a protective sock on the thumb.
The last two methods to prevent thumbsucking have to be implemented by parents. The bandage/sock has to be put on during the night, for kids who are in the habit of sucking their thumbs to sleep.
Note: Thumbsucking is not a habit that can be cured overnight. You need to be patient as our pediatric dental experts bring down this tendency gradually.
Book an appointment at Confidental Care if the thumbsucking habit of your child persists for too long. It is a natural habit that can turn harmful - and patient, systematic treatment is required to do away with it.