Although it is normal for babies to suck their thumb, doing so long-term could negatively affect their oral and facial development.
When children suck their thumbs or fingers, they can affect their teeth and jaws in different ways. Some children create what is commonly known as a dental openbite (a vertical space between the upper and lower teeth where the teeth do not touch). Openbites are notoriously the most difficult to correct.
Other children will suck so that it appears that their top teeth are “sticking out”. Surprisingly, in cases like these, it usually is the BOTTOM JAW that we are more concerned about. This is because the thumb or finger is preventing the lower jaw from coming forward and growing properly. Pressure applied from the thumb against the chin can affect the normal growth of the jaw which negatively affects the child’s face.
Look at the photos of this five-year-old female patient’s facial profile in the Before photos. She appears to have lost her BOTTOM JAW, lips and chin. The pressure from her hand against her jaw during sucking was negatively affecting her BOTTOM JAW, lip and chin development.
Then look at the amazing changes in her BOTTOM JAW, lip and chin after eliminating the thumb-sucking habit.
In addition, notice the positive effects in her teeth following elimination of the sucking habit. You will notice her dental openbite is improving as well as her dental overjet.
The negative effects to the teeth and jaw depends on the frequency, intensity and duration of the child’s sucking habit. Frequency is the number of times the child is sucking during the day. Intensity is the amount of force that is applied to the teeth and jaw during sucking. Duration is the total amount of time spent sucking. The more frequent, the more intense and the longer the duration of the sucking habit, the more likely it is to affect the child’s developing oral structure and jaw.
Call Dr. Honor Franklin at Honor Franklin Myofunctional and Speech Clinic at 972-233-1312. She is an IAOM Certified Orofacial Myofunctional Therapist and has been successfully eliminating deleterious sucking habits since 1977 using positive reinforcement and no hurtful appliances.
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