What Are The Concerns And Benefits Of Thumbsucking?
Babies have the instinct to suck on anything other than their mother’s nipples. Like pacifiers, thumbsucking became an alternative to this behavior. Some infants find the benefits of thumbsucking a reason to continue the act even until they’re past the toddler stage. Aside from the obvious, what other benefits does thumb sucking provide to kids?
What are its benefits?
- Soothing effects. This is the common reason why babies suck on their thumbs or index fingers. It gives an emotional reassurance whenever they’re not in contact with their mothers. It also entertains them when they’re bored or tired. Some parents find it okay since they don’t have to amuse the baby themselves. Dr. Mandana Many supports this theory and assures parents that it’s a natural reflex to any child.
- Immunity from allergies. The “hygiene hypothesis” is a study proving that children exposed to germs at early ages have a stronger immune system. Thumbsucking is an exposure to germs since hands are primary sources of dirt and germs of all sorts. The habit trains the immune system to protect the carrier from a serious illness.
It’s a good thing to know that there are benefits of thumbsucking and that it’s natural to infants. However, if you do not restrain your toddler from doing the habit, he’s at risk of these health conditions:
- Overbite or underbite. Consistent thumb sucking forces the developing teeth to mold in the shape and size of the thumb. This causes in overbites and underbites. These teeth misalignment makes the teeth move forward and causes speech and eating deficiency.
- Lisp. according to Dr. Mandana Many, thumbsucking also causes the jawbones to bend out of shape. This affects the teeth and the roof of the mouth as well. All these malformations contribute to a child’s speech impediment. Lisping is one form of a challenge in speaking where he can’t pronounce the words properly.
- Germs. Sometimes, you are not aware of what your child puts his hands into. When that happens, you won’t be in control if he has already put them inside his mouth. Cases in kids like mouth blisters or sores are usually from thumbsucking or nail-biting.
Gently educate your kid that the benefits of thumbsucking are temporary. It’s only good when they’re young and long-term effects are possible. There are various ways to encourage them to break the habit and these include the following:
Since thumbsucking is usually done when the kid is bored, introduce other entertainment games for him. Keep their hands busy with arts and crafts or let them play with joysticks and break games.
Applying bitter liquid
Over-the-counter medications are available to discourage children from sucking their thumbs again. A bitter liquid is a clear liquid with a bitter taste that’s safe for kids. Most parents find this effective after continuously applying it on their kid’s thumb for a week.
If you’re doubtful of the internet results on ways to stop thumbsucking, seek for a professional help. Dentists like Dr. Mandana Many guide parents and children to a proper and effective way to completely veer away from thumbsucking.