Effects of Thumb-Sucking on Children’s Dental Health

Effects of Thumb-Sucking on Children’s Dental Health
Effects of Thumb-Sucking on Children’s Dental Health

Thumb sucking is a common habit in babies and toddlers, but it can be worrisome when kids continue thumb sucking past age three.

You may have heard that it’s best to wean children off of pacifiers and thumb sucking when they hit their toddler years, and there’s a good reason.

The effects of thumbsucking on teeth can be long-lasting and detrimental to children’s oral health.

Today, we’ll take a closer look at the thumbsucking effects and some ways to help cub toddler thumbsucking.

Effect of Thumbsucking on Teeth

Thumbsucking in babies is not detrimental. However, as kids age, it can contribute to oral health concerns. Actively sucking the thumb can damage the primary teeth. While this damage does not always impact the permanent “adult” teeth, it can affect misalignment.

Children can face damage to teeth from thumbsucking, including misalignment. What we commonly see is an “open bite”, meaning the top and bottom teeth don’t touch even when the mouth is closed. Another potential option is an overbite when the front teeth overlap the bottom tooth by too much.

Thumbsucking effects also include facial development. The jaw and facial muscle development can be influenced by the sucking motion, changing the facial structure. This impacts appearance, but can also impair speech.

How to Stop Toddler Sucking Fingers

Ideally, children should stop sucking their thumb by age 4 at the latest. If you’re still battling toddler thumbsucking, do not panic. Breaking the habit takes time and patience. Here are a few tips to help:

  • Talk about the risks of this habit (in a way your child understands).
  • Provide another form of comfort, like a special blanket or stuffed animal to hold. 
  • Use positive reinforcement to reward withholding from thumbsucking for a certain period of time. 
  • Try an age-appropriate “fidget spinner”, stress ball, etc for distraction. 
  • Use (safe) bad-tasting nail polish to deter the habit.

Children’s Dentist Quincy

Are you worried about the effect of thumbsucking on teeth? Struggling to help your child stop? Our children’s dentist in Quincy is here to help you with all of your child’s oral health needs. We can assess your child’s mouth to determine if they have any damage to teeth from thumbsucking, and we can also provide many helpful tips and tools for pediatric oral health. Schedule your appointment with the Advanced Dental Arts children’s dentist in Quincy today!