The Battle of the Thumb
What’s Wrong with Sucking Your Thumb?
Most parents of preschoolers are engaged in the “battle of the thumb.” The thumb usually wins hands down. Continuous pressure on teeth from sucking can affect bone growth or even change the shape of the roof of the mouth. Upper teeth are sometimes pushed out while bottom teeth are pushed in. Speech and swallowing may also be affected.
What’s a parent to do?
Generally, a positive approach is the best defense in helping your child conquer the habit.
Reward your child for not sucking (scolding is counterproductive)—small gifts are fair game. For extreme cases, a dental device called a “tongue crib” can also be fitted. A tongue crib takes all the fun out of thumb sucking, painlessly, while also training the tongue to be held in the proper position.
Be positive and persistent, and you’ll both win the battle of the thumb.
Here’s Some Good News:
Most children who suck their thumbs stop by the ages of 3 or 4 with no damage to their teeth. But children who suck their thumbs frequently (not just at bedtime) after the ages of 4 or 5 may be in for some trouble.
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Dr. Angela Burns moved to Austin 10 years ago and instantly fell in love with our beautiful city. Dr. Burns is originally from the Texarkana area. She attended Texas A&M for her undergraduate degree and The University of Tennessee Health Science Center for her degree in dental surgery (DDS). Dr. Burns is committed to providing her patients with gentle, technologically advanced dental treatment. She attends an average of 60 hours of continuing education every year. She is a member of the American Dental Association, the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, the Texas Dental Association, and the Capital Area Dental Society. Dr. Burns and her husband, Gary, have an 11-year-old daughter, Sydney, who is a proud 6th grader at Hill Country Middle School. She is also very involved in the Eanes PTO, her church, and loves raising her family in the Westlake community. “Growing up, I was drawn to mediating and helping others feel more included and less anxious. I was a camp counselor, student government officer and being the oldest of five, I was the family mediator. I found that I had a calling to help alleviate stressful situations for others and realized that being a good listener was something that was key to this. These skills really helped guide me into becoming a dentist that has based my practice on relationships, empathy and a sense of comfort. I knew that I wanted to provide an atmosphere that felt like home when others walked in. Our practice is small, personal and state of the art and we hope you feel like you’re hanging out with friends when you are here!” When she is not practicing dentistry, Dr. Burns enjoys traveling, hiking the greenbelt, enjoying Austin’s music scene, and eating Amy’s Ice Cream.