Research shows most children who suck their thumbs will not suffer any long term effects if they stop the habit by the age of five. The real health concern begins after this age and becomes more serious as the child gets older. Less than 5 percent of children continue to thumbsuck past this age.
More than a Bad Habit?
If thumbsucking is accompanied by hair pulling, parents may be dealing with more than just a bad habit. Also, if your child is sucking his or her thumb so intensely it is causing a callus, there may be something else going on with the child. These actions may be related to emotional problems such as anxiety. In general, it is a good idea to consult a pediatrician to confirm the child’s behavior is simply a bad habit and has no underlying cause.
Possible Consequences: Dental
The biggest long-term problems arising from thumbsucking revolve around the mouth, obviously. Dental concerns are the first that come to mind. The most well known issue with thumbsucking is the development of improperly aligned teeth. The habit can restrict growth of the lower jaw, which could require complicated facial correction surgery. Teeth may also start to protrude outward from the mouth which could result in an abnormally large gap between the upper and lower teeth, according to an orthodontist San Antonio. All of these dental problems will merit a visit to an Orthodontist San Antonio branch.
Possible Consequences: Speech
Some children will develop speech problems. These problems include having difficulty with certain sounds and the pronunciation of certain letters including s, l, z, t, d among others. The poorly aligned teeth contribute to the speech problem. The child may also have a lisp. One other somewhat speech related issue is tongue thrust. Some children will seemingly not be able to control their tongue coming out of their mouth extensively when speaking.
Another possible complication is the child may develop malformations of the roof of the mouth. This will usually come from intense sucking. It is not as common as the other problems mentioned, but could be an issue for anyone with a particularly soft upper palate..