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The trouble with thumb-sucking

When in doubt it’s always best to ask the experts!  Here we discuss thumb sucking – why it’s bad and what can be done about it. Dr.Catherine Lee explains how this habit can interfere with your child’s teeth and jaw growth. More importantly, she also discusses what can be done to fix the damage.

Are you facing other issues around your child’s development you could also watch the short video on her discussing orthodontic options below too.

In a normal bite, the upper teeth grow to overlap the lower teeth. But the pressure of a thumb, finger or pacifier resting on the gums can interfere with normal tooth eruption and even jaw growth. Upper and lower teeth can become displaced, and a malformation of the upper jawbone can occur; in this case, the jawbone cannot grow normally.

Dr.Catherine Lee

Some thumb-suckers develop an “open bite”, which is associated with speech development problems: tongue-thrusting and lisping, and protruding front teeth that are prone to fracturing during play and sporting activities. This forward tongue-thrusting movement can also worsen situations of teeth displacement and upper jaw malformation.

When the pacifier or thumb-sucking habit can’t be stopped, or if it has been stopped but the teeth or jaw structure are already affected, seek the help of an orthodontist. A habit breaker – an orthodontic appliance used to widen the top jaw and discourage thumb-sucking and tongue thrusting – can be placed in the mouth to stop the habit. There are also treatments for correcting jaw growth problems and displaced teeth, and closing the gap formed by the thumb or pacifier.

It’s best to treat the problem before the age of 10, or before the child has lost all his or her baby teeth.

More from Dr Catherine…

Dr Catherine Lee Orthodontics
Level 36 (Penthouse), Income @ Raffles (Office Tower),
16 Collyer Quay
6835 9571 | drcatherineleeorthodontics.com

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This article first appeared in the August 2017 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase a copy or subscribe so you never miss an issue!