How Thumb Sucking Can Affect the Teeth

Although thumb sucking can be a very calming habit for many babies and children, Dr. Plotnick urges parents to start trying to kick this habit as early as possible (by age three and 100% by age six). When finger or thumb sucking isn’t tackled early on, the front six teeth can flare out and the palate will narrow, causing what we call an anterior open bite and a bilateral cross bite. This means that the front teeth won’t touch when your child bites together, practically leaving space for a thumb. This will result in years of orthodontic treatment to correct.

As we also know, teeth are a very important factor in speech development. During these formative learning years, finger and thumb sucking habits can result in years of speech therapy to resolve lisps and other speech development issues.

Here are some top ways to kick the habit:

  1. Try a thumb cozy or even long basketball or soccer socks over their arms while sleeping. (You can put a long sleeved shirt over the socks and safety pin them together)
  2. Daytime sucking needs to be constantly monitored. Thumb sucking can be the off button to an iPad or TV (that will teach them fast, especially when big brother gets their show turned off too because of his little brother’s habit!)
  3. Prize boards- Make goals for the week and find rewards that will excite your kids! Maybe an extra hour up at night or working their way up to a new toy?
  4. Explain to your child what thumb or finger sucking does to their teeth. Let them know it results in funny looking teeth and show them a picture.

Following these steps may save your child’s teeth! If you are located in the Williamsburg area and have further questions about how thumb sucking can affect your child’s teeth, contact us today for more information.