Thumb Sucking – How It Can Affect Your Child’s Teeth

Oral care starts at a surprisingly young age. Even the common habit of thumb sucking can present harm to the development of a straight, beautiful smile. Though thumb sucking is not harmful to a baby, it can be for older children. If this habit lasts past 3 years of age, it can slowly change the alignment of the teeth and impair their bite. Instead of the upper teeth fitting snugly around the lower teeth, thumb sucking can cause the upper teeth to start angling forward. This can misalign your child’s bite and make orthodontic care necessary later to straighten their smile. This can also happen from sucking on a pacifier or other fingers.

Most children stop thumb sucking on their own before they reach 3-4 years old. However, some children may need some encouragement to help them break the habit. You can try any of the following techniques for helping your child if they are struggling to break the thumb sucking habit.

Incentives – Use a prize or reward when they can refrain from sucking on their thumb for a certain period of time. This is a great way to help them to consciously start breaking their habit.

Substitution – If sucking their thumb is a comfort when falling asleep or tired, try using a stuffed animal or other object to let them hold onto to replace their habit.

Creativity – Use your imagination to create a fun reason for them to give up their pacifier or stop sucking their thumb. Tapping into their big imaginations could help make breaking their habit seem exciting, rather than a dread.

Let Us Help! –If you need some reinforcements to help your child stop thumb sucking, we may recommend appliance therapy that keeps a child from sucking their thumb.