Thumb Sucking

Thumb sucking is a common habit for children under two years old and is not a serious problem until the child’s permanent teeth come in. Once this happens, thumb sucking can have long-term effects on the child’s dental structure. It can eventually cause visible changes in the teeth and cause incisors to move from their natural position.

Some potential consequences of thumb sucking after the age of three are . . .

  • Reshaping of jawbone
  • Teeth growing out of alignment
  • Narrow dental arches
  • Flared out upper front teeth
  • Inward-moving lower teeth
  • Incorrect development of the child’s palate
  • Poor tongue placement
  • Trouble chewing

Snoring

Snoring is a common issue that can lead to or signify serious problems such as heart problems and sleep apnea.

Treatments

Both thumb sucking and snoring can be treated with devices that can be inserted in the mouth.

Thumb sucking can be discouraged using a palatal crib, rake, arch, or retainer. These devices break the suction when a child puts a thumb in his or her mouth, making thumb sucking less pleasant.

The fixed palatal crib is placed behind the child’s upper teeth and fixed to the roof of the mouth by the child’s dental provider. The crib is composed of semicircular stainless steel wires attached to the child’s molars with steel straps. This device typically stops the thumb sucking habit within the first day of use.

Appliances to stop snoring can involve moving the lower jaw forward to open the airway. A Silent Night device or night guard can help prevent snoring and can be obtained at a retail or drug store.

 

As always, it is best to discuss thumb sucking and snoring issues with a dental provider for the best information.