Will Thumb-Sucking Affect My Child’s Teeth?

Thumb-sucking is a natural, soothing reflex for children. Babies often suck on their thumbs, fingers, pacifiers, or other objects as a way to feel calm. They often do it before falling asleep. In fact, thumb-sucking often happens when babies are still in the womb. Children usually stop sucking on their thumbs or pacifiers between the ages of two and four years old.  Generally, a pacifier habit is a bit easier to break because it can be taken away. A thumb is always available for the child. What happens if a thumb-sucking habit is not broken?

Vigorous thumb-sucking can affect the teeth

Children usually stop sucking their thumb or pacifier before the teeth begin to erupt. If they still have a sucking habit of a pacifier, thumb, or other object when the teeth emerge, the habit may affect the alignment of the teeth. A passive sucking is unlikely to make a difference. However, vigorous sucking may cause a problem with the development of your children’s mouth, jaw, and teeth. Aggressive thumb-sucking may cause the teeth to jut out affecting the development and growth of the jaw.

Problems are rare; thumb-sucking is normal

The recommended age to stop sucking on the thumb or other objects is four years old. If your child continues the sucking-habit, gently discourage them. Praise your child when they choose not to suck their thumb. Ask your dentist to speak to your child about the consequences of continued and vigorous thumb-sucking. Try putting a band-aid or wrap around the thumb. Your dentist may recommend an oral appliance if the problem is serious. It is rare that complications develop, but it is important to be mindful of your children’s habits as they develop.

Thumb-sucking is normal, but it can create problems

Learn more about thumb-sucking by consulting with Dr. Marr. Schedule a visit to Pediatric Dental Care at Casa Linda in Dallas, TX, by calling 214-321-4880. We proudly welcome patients from Dallas, TX, and all surrounding communities, including Casa Linda, Lakewood, Lake Highlands, Forest Hills, East Dallas, Mesquite, Garland, Richardson, and more.


filed under: Tips/Advice