How Thumb Sucking Can Affect Your Child’s Teeth

October 4, 2018
Carly A. Moran, DDS, MS

Thumb Sucking Teeth

There are many reasons a child may start sucking his or her thumb: seeking comfort, managing anxiety, and pure habit just to name a few. It is a completely normal habit that can sometimes start before a baby is even born. However, if it continues past the age of four, it can cause long-term problems for the teeth and mouth.

In an ideal bite, the upper teeth will grow to overlap the lower teeth. However, the pressure of thumb sucking can lead to abnormal tooth eruption and unwanted effects on jaw growth. In order to prevent the negative consequences of thumb sucking, it’s important to take this habit seriously and intervene at a young age.

Negative Effects of Thumb Sucking

Thumb sucking can have many negative effects on your child’s teeth. It causes a repetitive pressure on the teeth, jawbone and roof of the mouth, and it may cause the following issues:

  • Overbite — where the front teeth protrude out from the jaw.
  • Open bite — where the teeth don’t overlap at all when you bite together.
  • Shrinking of the airways, which alters breathing patterns and causes sleep-disordered breathing.
  • Changes to your jaw or face shape, also affecting alignment of the teeth.
  • Development of hindered speech patterns such as a lisp.
  • A sensitive roof of the mouth.
  • Poor swallowing patterns.
  • Improper teeth positions.

What to Know When Looking for a Children’s Orthodontist


How to Stop Thumb Sucking

Most of these issues will resolve on their own or won’t develop at all if thumb sucking stops before permanent teeth come in around the age of six. However, here are a few tricks to help prevent long-term issues:

  1. Give positive reinforcement that encourages your child to choose to stop sucking their thumb on his/her own. Punishment, scolding and other types of negative reinforcement will most likely lead to the child continuing the habit out of defense.
  2. Hold your child’s hand when he or she gets the urge to suck his or her thumb. Or, put a soft blanket or stuffed animal in the hand when trying to suck his/her thumb. Oftentimes, thumb sucking provides emotional comfort, so making your child feel safe and comfortable should help.
  3. Cover your child’s hand with a bandage during the day in order to prevent him/her from sticking their thumb in his/her mouth.
  4. Take your child’s thumb out of his/her mouth after falling asleep at night.
  5. Consider a orthodontic appliance called a “thumb crib.” If your child is struggling to stop sucking their thumb, talk to any of the doctors or staff at our orthodontic offices about a thumb crib. We secure this appliance to the upper teeth to help children stop sucking their thumb, while also training the tongue to stop going in between the upper and lower teeth.

Thumb sucking is a natural habit for most young children. If your child doesn’t stop sucking their thumb naturally after age four, it can cause long-term damage to their teeth and mouth. If you’re having a hard time helping your child stop thumb sucking, consider talking to your dentist or seeking out an orthodontist to help.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to us here. We’re happy to help find a solution and prevent long-term issues with the teeth and mouth.

 

No comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • review rating 5  Amazing experience they all made my daughter and I feel very comfortable, all the ladies were extremely nice. Very well informed. Wouldn't go anywhere else!

    thumb Erica Wood
    10/02/2017
  • review rating 5  Fantastic staff who put the person (and their teeth!) at the center of the experience. Child-friendly waiting areas. I've had nothing but good experiences over my nearly 10 years with Gorman and Bunch. Cannot recommend highly enough!

    thumb Pete Freeman
    3/21/2018
  • review rating 5  Excellent every time we’ve brought our kids. Thorough evaluations, knowledgeable doctors/staff, great with kids, and great results

    thumb Stephanie
    2/21/2018
  • review rating 5  Amazing office! My daughter was home from college and had an orthodontic emergency. She was not a previous patient. Dr Moran was kind enough to see her. The entire staff was amazing. I would never go anywhere else!

    thumb Sharon Hoover
    10/18/2017
  • review rating 5  This 64 year old had teeth that had begun to overlap in my adult years, which was attributed to having 4 good teeth removed as a child for "Crowded teeth". I waited to fund Invisalign until incurring no penalty for taking IRA funds, other than taxes. I was fortunate to be referred to Dr. Jason Bunch by my dentist, Dr. Jack Nicewander. Dr. Bunch and his Carmel, IN office staff see numerous children and young adults, but welcome the young at heart as well. I trust them and find them accommodating, efficient, professional and compassionate.

    thumb Joyce Eggleston
    3/22/2018
  • review rating 5  Love this office! Helpful, professional, and knowledgeable doctor and staff. Haven’t had 1 issue with them. They’ve got their routine down pat.

    thumb Courtney Amos
    3/21/2018
  • review rating 5  Personal and professional, everyone always takes great care of my sensitive mouth teen!This is our first experience with needing orthodontia, when it’s time for my youngest to get braces, we’ll choose this place again in a heartbeat.From the team up front to the team in the back, everyone is so nice and yet so efficiently on task, it is quite impressive.They have reasonable pricing and are willing to help with a payment plan.Keep up the great work!!

    thumb Robert Cassidy
    1/10/2018
  • review rating 5  Very great place! Went there for my first time today and i felt so comfortable and they are helping me fix my mouth!! Love love love!

    thumb Haley Elston
    2/21/2018
  • review rating 5  Heather and Dr Carly were awesome! Friendly, informative, and professional. Office was very inviting. We had a great appointment and look forward to the next couple of years of working with them.

    thumb Andy Tebbe
    9/27/2017
  • review rating 5  Cannot say enough good things about this practice! I've been to Westfield and Carmel locations, both are beautiful with helpful and friendly staff. Dr Bunch is experienced, knowledgeable, and truly cares about his patients and strives to get the best results possible for each one!

    thumb Karen Caudle
    3/06/2018

timmy