Zurcher Orthodontics

Why You Need to Stop Your Child from Sucking their Thumb

Your children will have developed the habit of sucking their thumb as a way to cope with stress, for entertainment or to lull themselves to sleep. This not a habit they should take past the age of 5 or 6 years old as it could have negative effects on the child’s teeth that will result in costly dentist bills.

Children start to develop their permanent teeth around the age of 6. At this age their teeth and facial bones are developing and are easier to manipulate than adult bones and teeth. The action of thumb sucking can cause bone and tooth structures to shift out of place.


Dental Conditions Caused by Thumb Sucking:

  1. Pressure on the teeth can cause an overbite or underbite. This is when the teeth do not come together properly and ether the top jaw or bottom jaw sticks out too far over the opposite row of teeth. This is a problem with bite that can affect the way the child eats and speaks.
  2. The positioning of the jaw bone can be altered and result in your child developing a lisp.Your facial bones determine how all the components of the mouth, such as the teeth and tongue, fit together to pronounce words and syllables correctly.
  3. Harmful bacteria can be placed in the mouth from your child sucking their thumb. These bacteria can cause disease in the mouth and body.
  4. The shape of the roof of your child’s mouth can become altered and more sensitive.
  5. Poor breathing and swallowing behaviors and patterns can develop, which can lead to breathing difficulties and poor saliva production later in life.
  6. Thumb sucking can change the child’s face shape, making it more narrow.

Thumb sucking should be discouraged around the age of 5 years old. Positive ways to discourage this behavior is through praise or a reward system that encourages the child not to suck their thumb. When they are young, try to wean them off their thumb by offering the child a pacifier or distracting them with a toy or song, when they want to start sucking their thumb. Try to prevent circumstances that cause your child to suck their thumb.

This is also a good time to educate them on the importance of their permanent/ adult teeth and how they should be taking care of them. Letting them know how sucking their thumb can impact their teeth can get them to quit the habit.

We will also be able to advise you on the best dental practices for your child. It is important your child visits the dentist around the age of 6 to determine whether they need any dental assistance to correctly position their permanent teeth.

Contact Zurcher Orthodontics in Draper for more information!