Prolonged Thumb Sucking May Affect Your Child’s Teeth Alignment

If your child is a thumb sucker, you may wonder if this habit can harm the alignment of your child’s teeth.

This is a valid concern, because after the permanent teeth come in, prolonged thumb sucking can interfere with teeth alignment and normal mouth growth and even change the roof of the mouth. Pacifiers have a similar effect on the teeth and mouth, but are usually an easier habit to break.

Thumb sucking is a comforting and natural reflex for babies and young children to help them feel secure and fall asleep. But when continued beyond the toddler stage, this habit can cause a dental open bite where the upper and lower teeth don’t meet in the front.

If you are concerned about your child’s prolonged thumb sucking habit, please come see us. We will examine your child’s teeth and oral cavity and discuss options to stop the thumb sucking and return the teeth to a more normal position.

How To Stop Thumb Sucking

Most children will stop sucking on their thumbs or pacifiers between the ages of 2 and 4. Here are some hints to help a toddler kick the habit:

  • Don’t use excessive pressure on the child to stop – this technique may backfire.
  • Praise your child for not thumb sucking instead of reprimands.
  • Look for any cause of insecurity that may be driving this habit.
  • Reward the child when they avoid thumb sucking in a difficult time, such as when separated from you.
  • Bandage the thumb or put a sock over the hand at night to discourage thumb sucking.

Learn more about Thumb Sucking and Pacifier Use from the American Dental Association.

Let Us Know If You Have Questions on Any Aspect of Oral Health Care

Dr. Lorraine Burio of Candlewood Dental Care has been treating and educating patients for over twenty-five years. Our office serves the New Fairfield, New Milford, Danbury, and Sherman areas of CT and Pawling, Patterson and Putnam Lake of New York. You can call us at 203-746-1200 or make an appointment here.