Children tend to suck their thumbs. This is a bad habit that can cause an overbite. So, how to fix overbite from thumbsucking, and how this occurs?
In this article, we have discussed everything you need to know about overbite from thumbsucking.
How does thumbsucking cause an increased overbite?
Thumb sucking is the natural reflex of children. The babies develop this habit because of the natural suckling reflex. They can suck their thumb while sleeping or even at other times. This habit usually lasts for two to four years of age.
After 6 years of age, permanent teeth start to erupt. If thumbsucking persists for a longer duration, it will cause problems with the permanent teeth such as an overbite.
Orthodontists have found that if a habit continues into childhood, it can cause various orthodontic problems in adulthood.
Whether this will cause an overbite depends on the intensity of the habits. Some children suck their thumbs aggressively and some children suck thumbs mildly.
Some do that continuously and some occasionally. So, the problem varies with individuals.
Those who suck their thumbs continuously can affect their primary teeth as we. So, you need to be careful about that as well.
But, how finger or thumbsucking causes an overbite?
When someone sucks thumb, he puts the thumb in between teeth and tongue. In fact, he pushes the back of the upper teeth with the thumb.
This provides pressure on the back of the teeth. When he does it frequently, teeth start to move forward.
As a result, he will end up having an increased overbite over time. Mostly it causes a horizontal overbite or excess overjet. Bit, it can also cause an excess vertical overbite.
Besides, the other side of the thumb presses the tongue during thumb sucking. So, the tongue also puts pressure on the back of the upper teeth.
This pushes the teeth forward as well. During this mechanism thumb also push the lower teeth with its backside.
Therefore, the front teeth of both jaws can’t make contact after a few times. This is a condition, called an open bite.
Thumbsucking may also affect the growth of the jaw and mouth of your children. It also alters the shape of the palate or roof of the mouth.
This causes the narrowing of the palate which results in crowding of the teeth.
This habit also pushes the tongue away from the palate if persists for a long time. In severe cases, the habit can result in a lisp.
Some people think that using a pacifier can stop their habits. It doesn’t the same or more damage than good.
Using the pacifier can also cause an overbite and misaligned teeth or, interruption with the development of mouth and jaw or change the shape of the roof of the mouth. It can damage the teeth structure as well.
Nail-biting is another common habit that’s similar to finger sucking habits. It also put pressure on the front teeth, leading to protruded teeth.
Here are the side effects of thumbsucking habits.
- Protruded upper teeth
- Increased overbite
- Retruded lower teeth
- Open bite
- Narrowing of the roof of the jaw
- Speech disturbance or lisp
Ways to fix overbite from thumbsucking
First of all, it’s necessary to stop the thumbsucking habit before correcting the overbite. If we don’t do that, an overbite can come back again even after fixing it.
Here are the ways to correct the overbite from thumbsucking.
Step 1. Stop thumbsucking.
If you don’t stop the thumb-sucking, it will affect the treatment and you will have to face trouble to fix overbite of your kids completely.
But, How to stop thumbsucking to cause an overbite or prevent interfering with the treatment?
There are several ways to stop it. Let’s take a look at the techniques.
1. Encourage to stop the habits
You need to be careful not to let your child do this. Whenever he puts his thumb in his mouth, you explain it to him.
Kids don’t try to understand it easily. They feel secure and comfortable to place the finger inside the mouth. For this, you have to take different approaches.
Your dentist or orthodontist can help you encourage your children. You can also learn the technique from him to motivate your children.
Some kids suck their thumb when they feel uncomfortable or stress. Try to keep them happy and give them comfort. Help them get rid of anxiety or feeling insecure.
So, you can do a few things.
- Find out the cause all solve it.
- Remind them a few times a day.
- Notice while they are doing it.
- Encourage them to stop positively.
- Praising or rewarding them
Set a goal for your kids like telling them you will reward them if they don’t suck the thumbs for the whole day.
You can praise them by giving a reward in the morning on the following day for their good work.
2. Place finger guards
Finger guards are chemical-free and commonly used devices to discourage the thumbsucking habit.
Kids hate to bite on this plastic guard. So, they stop sucking completely slowly.
You can get Orthodontic finger guards online.
There is another type of finger guards, that’s gloves variety. These are specially made gloves to stop the habit.
It’s also very effective. The child also doesn’t mind wearing it, as it’s just like a glove.
If you don’t like the finger guards, get the gloves online.
3. Use hand stopper
A hand stopper is another effective method to stop the habit. This is actually a flexible elbow brace.
You have to place it on the elbow of your kids. This device stop flexing. That means, when your kids move their arm to insert a finger into mouth, it prevents it.
So, your children forget the habit over time. It’s very beneficial in severe cases.
If finger guards don’t help your kids, get the hand stopper online.
4. Bandage the thumb
You can use a bandage to cover the thumb. Cover the hand with a clean sock can also be helpful at night.
5. Dress your kids in a long-sleeve
You can also dress your kids in long sleeves. It gets difficult for them to put the finger into the mouth with the dress. You can try this until you get those finger guards.
6. Put bitter medication on the thumb.
You can seek your dentist for a medication that’s bitter in taste. You have to coat the fingers of your kids with it.
So, when they try to suck the thumb, they stop doing it for the bitter taste. But, it may not be comfortable for the children and some may not suggest it.
7. Get an orthodontic appliance
If none of the above techniques work for your kids, you should consult with your orthodontist.
He can give your child an orthodontic appliance, that will fix the habit. Kids have to wear that for a certain period.
They will not put their fingers in their mouths for fear of being bitten because of the device.
Step 2. Fix overbite from thumbsucking
If you or your kids already have an overbite due to thumb-sucking, first of all, you need to stop the habit and then fix it by one of the following ways.
1. Palatal expander
Since finger sucking causes the narrowing of the roof of the mouth, teeth get enough space to align themselves properly.
So, first of all, you need to expand the palate with a palatal or jaw expander. This device is put on the roof of the mouth.
It has two parts that are connected to each other in the center with an expansion screw. Two-part of the device put pressure away from each other.
This helps expands the jaw. This treatment is for growing children.
After this treatment, kinds may need orthodontic treatment with braces or Invisalign.
2. Orthodontic Braces
Braces can solve almost any orthodontic problems. But, Can Braces Fix An Overbite From Thumbsucking?
Braces can fix overbite that’s caused by thumbsucking. If thumbsucking persists in teenagers or in adults and they have an increased overbite, braces can fix the overbite.
Its cost is reasonable. The main thing is it’s the best option to treat a bite problem as well as any malocclusion.
Learn more about braces for overbite correction.
3. Clear aligners
You or your kids can also get a clear aligner like Invisalign to fix the overbite from thumbsucking.
It gives you a pleasant appearance as it’s transparent and less noticeable. Working efficacy is similar to braces. But, the cost is a little bit higher.
Learn more about Invisalign for overbite correction.
4. Orthodontic Headgear
Children can also have an orthodontic headgear. It controls the growth of the jaw bone and corrects the developing overbite and misaligned teeth.
5. Removable appliances or retainer
This device puts pressure on the upper front teeth and gradually correct the overbite. It can correct only 1-2 mm of overbite.
6. Jaw surgery
In the adult, if the overbite is severe due to the size of the jaw bone, you may need this surgery.
As headgear or palatal expanders can’t help adults, surgery fixes the jaw bone problem such as narrow or underdeveloped jaw.
When to seek the dentist or orthodontist?
If you notice that your child has the habit continuously and you should consult with a pediatric dentist.
If you can detect the problem early like developing overbite you can get better results. It’s recommended that you start a regular check-up of your child in the dentist’s office by 1 year of age.
Thumb sucking is s natural reflex that starts from birth. It may last till 4-5 years of age and then it goes away on its own.
But, if it persists for a longer duration, it can cause an abnormal overbite and misaligned or crowded teeth.
Before fixing the overbite due to the finger-sucking habits, the habit should be stopped at any cost.
Use different preventing methods and habit-breaking devices to stop them at home.
To fix the overbite permanently, you can get palatal expanders, braces, Invisalign, or headgears for your kids.
In the adult, it can be treated by braces, Invisalign, or jaw surgery depending on the types of cases. Consult with an orthodontist for that.