Sports, Health & Lifestyle
Written By: Thuria Ghaleb
Article Date: Jul 24, 2007 - 6:49:47 AM
A cute, but costly habit.
Many school children suffer from various dental problems as a result of various bad oral habits, such as lip biting and sucking, says a new study. The study, titled Prevalence of Lip Biting and Sucking in Primary School, was conducted to see the prevalence and medical effects of lip biting and sucking among primary school children. This research, supervised by Dr. Ali Al-Mashhadani, sampled 100 schoolgirls between six and ten years old from three different schools in Sana’a. The study found that thumb-sucking decreases with age.
It found that six-year-old children presented the highest rate of thumb-sucking, with 28 percent of them sucking their thumbs. None of the 10-year-old children were found to be practicing this habit. It seems that this habit decreases with age due to the shame that the child feels when sucking his or her thumb in front of others; the habit goes away as the child becomes more aware. The children stop sucking their thumbs because of pressure from the community, and they do not address the causes behind the habit. If the reasons for thumbsucking are not addressed, children may sublimate the urge into biting or sucking their lips. In contrast to thumbsucking, lip biting and sucking increases with age.
This may be because the child no longer sucks his or her thumb due to the feelings of shame. The child then looks for another habit or action to release the stress that comes with age, so he or she starts sucking the lip instead of the thumb, a habit more social acceptable. The study found that 80 percent of 10-year-old children bite or suck their lip, whereas only 22 percent of six-year-old children do. Lip sucking involves repeatedly holding the lower lip beneath the upper front teeth. The sucking of the lower lip may occur by itself or in combination with thumb sucking. Lip biting and lip sucking sometimes appear after the forced discontinuation of thumb or finger sucking. Lip biting or sucking most often involves the lower lip, which is turned inwards, and pressure is exerted on the inside of the lip.
This habit can lead to the cracking of the lips, as well as dryness. The study found that lip cracking was shown on about 65 percent of eight-year-old children and 53 percent of 10-year-old children, whereas just 11 percent of children who are six suffer from this cracking in their lips. The research found that upper proclination, a prominence in the upper arterial teeth, increased with age. This also coincided with the increase in frequency of the habit. This suggests that the lip habit can result in malocclusions, the improper alignment of the teeth. There is no close relation with lower retroclination, a retraction in the lower teeth, which presents itself if the habit is practiced vigorously. The study found that upper proclination was shown on 53 percent of 10-year-olds, whereas just 6 percent of six-year-olds suffered from the same thing. Lower retroclination is found to decrease with age.
The study found that the lower retroinclination was not shown at high rates as the upper proclination was in all age groups. About 21 percent of seven-year-old children suffer from lower retroclination, whereas no 10-year-olds suffered from it. The research also found that children around eight tend to have crowding of teeth in their lower jaw. This is not related to lip sucking, but is a stage in normal development called the ugly duckling stage, which occurs earlier with girls than with boys. Lower crowding was found among 44 percent of eight-year-olds, whereas it was found among 6 percent of six-year-old children. Overjet, an abnormal distance between the upper and lower incisors in the horizontal plane, obviously increases with age; the study shows that overjet seems have a close relationship with the lip habit.
About 40 percent of 10-year-olds have overjet, whereas just 6 percent of children who are six have it. The most important result found was that none of children who had unhealthy oral habits received the necessary orthodontic treatment that they needed. All of children found practicing these oral habits answered “no” when asked if they received any treatment for their oral habit. Many children have severe malocclusions but did not receive any treatment because of the absence of education for the society. Negative oral behaviors include, among others, digit sucking, pacifier sucking, lip sucking and biting, nail-biting, teeth grinding, self-injurious habits, mouth breathing, and tongue thrust.
Nonnutritive sucking behaviors (e.g., finger or pacifier sucking) are considered normal in infants and young children and are usually associated with their need to satisfy the urge for contact and security. Because persistent nonnutritive sucking habits may result in long-term problems, professional evaluation is recommended for children still sucking beyond the age of 3 years. Some habits, such as lip licking and lip pulling, are relatively benign habits in relation to the impact on the teeth. More severe lip and tongue biting habits may be associated with profound disability due to severe brain damage. The research highly recommends that health organization generate interest in dental education for the population.
They must introduce programs to educate the population via television, radio, lectures and so on, so that people can know the basic of good dental health. Researchers advised parents to take care of the oral health of the child. The study was conducted by six researchers Ahlam Al-Asri, Amal Al-Kebsi, Abtesam Al-Ra’ai, and Rowida Abdo- Al Moghni in Community Dentistry, Faculty of Dentistry, Sana’a University. “When we conducted this study, we observed that school children did not have the necessary information about their dental health. All of students, except for just 5 percent, do not visit the dentist regularly; they go to the dentist only when they feel pain in their teeth and some of them never visit the dentist.
Most of them did not know what the dentist’s exact job is; they thought that he just pulled up the bad teeth,” said Amal Al-Kebsi, one of the researchers. “We found a lot of horrible cases and many of them needed instant intervention. We visited the classes and presented small lectures explaining the most common dental problems such as dental caries and habits. Also we explained the role of dentists in resolving these problems,” she said. “We faced a lot of difficulties such as the limited sources that discuss this subject. We looked for information from books on pedodontics, orthodontics, and prevention, in addition to searching on websites, which took most of our time.”
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