Digit Sucking Habit, Prevalence and Effects on Occlusion in 7-12 Year Old School Children In Benin City, Nigeria

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Nosakhare J. OTAREN
Alice A. UMWENI
Olayinka D. OTUYEMI
Ehi OGBEIDE

Abstract

Objective: Digit sucking (thumb and finger sucking) is one of the most common forms of non-nutritive sucking. It is a topic of interest in many fields, including psychology, paediatrics, speech therapy and dentistry, due to its frequent dentofacial manifestations. The objective of this study was to determine the prevalence of digit sucking habit in 7-12 years old school children in Benin City and identify the effect of the habit on the occlusion.


Methods: This was a descriptive cross-sectional study. A total of 650 school children selected by a multistage sampling technique were interviewed and examined for digit sucking habit and occlusion.


Results: The prevalence of digit sucking habit was 11.5%. There was a significant decrease in prevalence of the habit with increasing age (P<0.05). There was a statistically significant relationship between digit sucking and posterior crossbite (P<0.05). There was also a statistically significant relationship between digit sucking and anterior open bite (P<0.05) and increased overjet (P<0.05), there was however no significant relationship between digit sucking habit and molar relationship (Angle’s).


Conclusion: The significant relationship between digit sucking habit and occlusion (posterior crossbite, anterior open bite and increased overjet), suggest the need for early identification of this habit in children and early intervention. The education of mothers on the deleterious effects of digit sucking habit is suggested as well as regular orthodontic assessment for children who are five years and older.

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