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Thumb-Sucking Effects on Dental Health

Thumb-Sucking Effects on Dental Health


Does your child suck his thumb? Want to know whether to worry or not? Many parents may not understand why children suck on their thumb or other finger, but this is actually a very common reflex in young children. Statistics show that 45% of 2 and 3 year olds develop this habit.

If your child is still sucking his/her thumb as the permanent teeth grow in, or will not relinquish the pacifier, you may have to help and stop thumb sucking habit in order to prevent dental problems in the future.

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Effects on teeth

  • Jawbone reshaping
  • Tooth intolerance
  • Teeth grow out of position
  • Prominent front teeth
  • Poor tongue placement / movement
  • Language barrier
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing

Most children grow up out of habit. This usually occurs between two and four years. When the permanent front teeth are ready to grow, children must stop sucking their thumbs. If your child is sucking his or her thumb and this is a concern, the ADA offers these tips to help your child quit.

  • Instead of scolding your child for not breastfeeding, praise them for not breastfeeding
  • If your baby is breastfeeding for comfort, your focus will be on correcting the source of fear, not the habit.
  • You can remind your child of bad habits by covering your thumbs, such as with stickers or socks.
  • Your pediatrician or dentist can offer additional incentives. You can also prescribe something to apply to the thumb to make it feel bad.