Worried About Your Child’s Tongue Thrusting Or Thumb Sucking Habits?

child tongue thrusting thumb sucking

Toddlers and babies can often be found sucking their thumb or thrusting their tongue, behavior that would be unsightly on an adult but seems universally acceptable for babies. It is a natural way for them to soothe themselves when they are upset, and frankly parents would probably rather they do that than cause a commotion in public with their wailing. However, if the habit continues as they grow older, it can be a problem — not only does it look socially awkward, but it could damage the growth pattern of their jaw, especially in these early development years. But don’t worry, there are ways to prevent the problems caused by excessive tongue thrusting or thumb sucking.

Dangers Of Prolonged Thumb Sucking Or Tongue Thrusting

As a child is in its development stages, the bones are still soft and may be susceptible to going out of alignment if constantly pressurized. A child who constantly and vigorously engages in the abovementioned habits may inadvertently push their teeth and bones out of shape. This could potentially lead to a malformed jaw, and increased chances of needing jaw surgery to correct the shape of the jaw which has gone out of alignment. Before it can get to this stage, you can break your child’s damaging habit with a thumb and finger appliance, called a habit appliance.

Using A Habit Appliance For Thumb Sucking

A habit appliance looks like a retainer worn by older children or even adults. Made from metal, it has semicircular wires forming a palatal crib. This appliance is attached in the child’s mouth just behind the upper teeth. The idea is to block the child’s access to the roof of their mouth with their fingers or thumbs. Without being able to access this part with their fingers, they would derive no pleasure from sucking, and therefore the habit would slowly fade off naturally as they no longer enjoy doing it. Some people find this is effective in just one day, others may take longer.

Correcting Tongue Thrusting With A Habit Appliance

When infants swallow, they have to thrust their tongues backward so that the food can go down safely. This becomes less of a necessity the older they get, and by the time they are six years old, they should be completely weaned off. If this does not happen, however, they may get crossbites, misaligned teeth or other future jaw problems. To prevent these, there is a habit appliance similar to the thumb sucking one which prevents the child from being able to thrust the tongue back. If your child is beyond six years of age and is still exhibiting signs of dependency on thumb sucking or tongue thrusting, it may be necessary to get a habit appliance to break their habit. In NYC, Dr Alex Rubinov is one of the most trusted dentists who can recommend you the best solution for your child, whether to prevent or to correct a child’s bite problems. Contact us for a consultation today!

COVID-19 UPDATE