How Your Child’s Thumb Sucking Affects Their Teeth As an Adult & What You Can Do to Help


If you’re like most parents, you’ve likely witnessed your child sucking his or her thumb. This is a natural coping response whereby young children feel secure and safe. Thumb sucking is done frequently during the infant stage when one’s baby teeth grow in. During the infancy and young child stages, it is not much to worry about. It is during this stage that baby teeth begin to fall out and are replaced with permanent teeth. Prolonged (especially aggressive) thumb sucking can create dental and oral health issues in the years to come.

Dental Problems

Amid your frustration with your child for not giving up the thumb sucking habit, you may have inadvertently stated that you child’s teeth will be ruined forever because of the bad habit. “You’ll mess up your teeth if you continue with the thumb sucking,” you may have said to your child. You may have even threatened your child with the declaration that they will be crooked as an adult.

While it can cause crooked, deformed and misaligned teeth and jaws, most of these problems are dealt with and treated in later childhood through the teen years so that the teeth are healthy and straight as children become adults.

The most common dental issues that can result in your child’s excessive thumb sucking include:

· Overbite

· Trouble eating and pronouncing words

· Misaligned jaws

· Malformation of the mouth roof

· Premature tooth loss

· Temporandular Joint Disorder (TMJ)

The crooked teeth and misaligned jaws are just some of the potential dental health problems that can occur in infancy and young childhood. Excessive consumption of juice and formula can cause cavities which can expound the poor alignment and health of a young child’s teeth.


Along with the teaching and enforcement of good dental hygiene is important in preventing childhood dental problems. There are many treatment ideas for encouraging kids to stop sucking their thumbs. Regardless of the method used, it is ultimately up to the child to stop the habit. For this to happen, positive reinforcement is the most successful. Praise and reward your child for not sucking their thumb. Increase the time needed for a reward if the child is older. Cover the thumb or hand with a band-aid or cloth. Take your toddler’s thumb out of his or her mouth when they’re asleep. For older children who refuse to knock the habit, the dentist may recommend a dental appliance or a bitter-tasting solution to apply to the thumb.

If the child’s permanent teeth come in and the damage to them is already noticeable, orthodontic treatment will most likely be recommended. Depending on the severity of the misalignment of the jaws and the crookedness of the teeth, the orthodontic treatment can involve tooth extractions and the braces and retainers may need to be worn longer. Toward the end of the teen years and early adulthood, the wisdom teeth may need to be extracted to keep the teeth in proper alignment.

Usually with orthodontic treatment, good at-home dental hygeiene and routine visits to the dentist, the damaging effects of thumb sucking are greatly minimized or nearly eradicated by adulthood.


Source by Anna Bird

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