Thumb sucking can have a detrimental affect on children’s teeth. Over time the top teeth can be pulled forward and the bottom teeth pushed back.
A consequence of thumb sucking is tongue thrusting. The brain is ‘taught’ to thrust the tongue forward even when the thumb is not inserted.
This can cause continued problems with the slow movement outward of the upper teeth although the lower teeth are often corrected by this process.
With exercises the patient can learn not to thrust and the tension in the upper lip will help correct things naturally.
Planning now can save smiles later
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children have an initial orthodontic screening by the age of 7. By this age, all the permanent incisors (front teeth) as well as the permanent first molars should have erupted. If inadequate space exists, some of these teeth could become impacted. An evaluation at this time helps identify problems with eruptions.
Also at this time, we can evaluate growth discrepancies of the jaws, crossbites (when upper teeth hit inside the lower teeth), crowding, and the development of injury-prone dental protrusions. An early orthodontic screening enables us to advise you if treatment will even be necessary, and if so, determine the best time for your child to be treated.
Some signs or habits that may indicate the need for an early orthodontic examination include early or late loss of baby teeth, difficulty in chewing or biting, mouth breathing, thumb or finger sucking, crowding, displaced or blocked-out teeth, repeated biting of the cheek or roof of the mouth, teeth that meet abnormally or not at all, jaws or teeth that are out of proportion to one another, and a smile that is not symmetrical.