You may be concerned about your child’s thumb-sucking and wonder what will happen if they don’t give up the habit by the time their teeth come in.
Children suck on things because sucking is one of a baby’s natural reflexes and as infants get older, sucking serves other purposes. It may make them feel secure and happy and helps them learn more about their world. Young children may suck on thumbs, fingers, pacifiers or other objects in order to soothe themselves. Thumb sucking also helps induce sleep for young children.
After the permanent teeth come in, thumb and finger sucking could cause problems with the growth of the teeth and with teeth alignment. In some cases, children could suffer a severe overbite or problems with the roof of their mouth. The damage done to the mouth and teeth depends on how hard the child sucks their thumb or finger. Some aggressive thumb-suckers even see problems beginning with their baby teeth.
If your child sucks their thumb, fingers or other objects such as a pacifier, they need to break the habit before their permanent front teeth come in – if not sooner. Examine your child’s teeth on a regular basis and if you notice any changes consult the dentist as soon as possible.
SEALING OUT THE BAD...Read Now
Let’s talk about dental sealants!
How does a sealant help prevent tooth decay? A sealant is a plastic material that is usually applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth – premolars and molars. This plastic resin bonds into the depressions and grooves (pits and fissures) of the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. The sealant acts as a barrier, protecting enamel from plaque and acids.
Thorough brushing and flossing can help remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth, but a toothbrush cannot reach all the way into the depressions and grooves of a tooth to clean out the food and plaque. Sealants protect these vulnerable areas by “sealing out” plaque and food.
Sealants are easy for your dentist or hygienist to apply and it only takes about a minute per tooth. The teeth that will be sealed are cleaned then the chewing surfaces are roughened with an acid solution to help the sealant adhere to the tooth. The sealant is then “painted” onto the tooth enamel, where it bonds directly to the tooth and hardens. Sometimes a special curing light is used to help the sealant harden.
Sealants are usually recommended for children and teenagers since the likelihood of developing pit and fissure decay begins early in life. But, adults can benefit from the protection of sealants as well!