Q:How do I get my child to stop thumbsucking? He’s turning 6 soon and he still cannot stop this habit. Will this affect his teeth alignment? We’re also worried that other children might tease him.
A: Dr. Erwin Martin Cabusas, DMD:
Toddlers incur no harm from thumbsucking because their mouths are still pliable and their teeth are not yet permanent.
However, by age 6, they will start growing permanent teeth. Sustained thumbsucking at this age may push their newly erupted front teeth forward. In this case, you will most likely have to save up for a meeting with an orthodontist.
Also, when their teeth are askew, children may have difficulty pronouncing consonant sounds such as b, j, m, p, s, z, sh, th, and ch—this is known as lisping.
Moreover, long-term thumbsucking may cause a deep dent in the child’s palatal vault or ngala-ngala. A new implement, called the “rake,” is recommended by some dentists to protect the palatal vault from any impending damage. It works as a removable orthodontic tooth repositioner used to align the teeth by keeping the thumb out and the tongue back. It has proven to be successful in just a few months, but has yet to gain popularity in the Philippines.
Still, it’s normal for preschoolers to suck their thumbs or chew their nails. These are harmless ways of soothing themselves and releasing tension. They will learn to lose these habits at their own pace. With a calm and relaxed reminder every now and then, you’ll be able to get your message through.
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Click here to read more on what moms and experts recommend to deal with thumbsucking.