Local orthodontist, Dr. Susan Lempert, counsels many worried parents about their children’s thumb sucking habits. Dr. Lempert explains “Parents most frequently express concerns about the damage thumb sucking can have on their child’s teeth and they are frustrated with finding a suitable method to encourage their child to stop.” In her practice Dr. Lempert incorporates recommendations from the American Dental Association and the American Psychological Association to formulate a unique, comprehensive approach. She starts with a basic understanding of the sucking reflex.
According to the ADA and the APA sucking in infants is common, harmless and beneficial for self-soothing. As a child grows and becomes a toddler this self-soothing is still acceptable and allows the child to feel safe while exploring their new world. When a child enters the preschool years the benefits of sucking wane and the side effects can become more detrimental. This is when the sucking effects on the developing mouth and teeth can become evident.
Dr. Lempert explains, “Once the adult teeth erupt the sucking can cause problems with the proper growth of the mouth and the alignment of the teeth. It can also cause changes in the shape of the roof of the mouth.” This is why Dr. Lempert follows the guidelines of the American Association of Orthodontists and recommends every child have an orthodontic screening by age 7. She explains, “Most children do not need treatment at that age but for some we can identify potential problems, like thumb sucking, and offer early solutions that will ultimately make for less problems down the road. Prevention is important.”
If you have concerns about your child’s thumb sucking habit Dr. Lempert provides complimentary orthodontic screenings for children in her Swedesboro office. You can visit her website at: www.lempertsmile.com to learn more about her practice.
Dr. Lempert graduated from Brown University with a B.A. in Human Biology. She received her Master of Science in Oral Biology Degree, Certificate in Orthodontics, and Doctor of Dental Medicine Degree from Temple University School of Dentistry.