Dr. Mark Yamamoto, our dentist and expert in TMJ who is based in Huntington Beach but serves all of Orange County, California, related how much damage the effects of thumbsucking can cause, even life-long dental problems. We saw slides of the face of one young woman in her 20’s who exhibited a noticeable swelling on one side of her face. A combination of factors had brought her to Dr. Mark seeking to have her bite adjusted properly.
A clicking jaw, too small fillings and a snowboarding accident combined to make her situation unbearable. Besides the swelling of her jaw x-ray examination showed that she had the beginnings of arthritis in her jaw.
After a full-mouth model to study her condition, Dr. Mark determined that he needed to add material to specific places in both her top and bottom teeth in order to correct her bite and give her comfort. This was a conservative treatment where he used the full-mouth model to demonstrate both the problem and solution and get the patients fully informed consent on this course of treatment.
After his treatment program, which did NOT require any wiring of the jaw, her swelling began to go down; her bite changed for the better; small adjustments were made to the composite that allowed her teeth to fully come together.
The full-mouth modeling is the key: no treatment should be done without it. You can’t fake the results: the patient ended up with a comfortable bite.
Dr. Mark reminded us of the role that thumb sucking played in this woman’s condition: when the thumb goes to the roof to the mouth it pushes the soft palate up on the septum which can lead to difficulty breathing and lifelong dental issues.
Parents: here are is help information from a reputable site WebMD.com: Thumb Sucking Overview