August 19, 2023

What Happens to Your Teeth When You Suck Your Thumb?

Many young kids suck their thumb as a natural reflex to feel comforted. While the habit is usually harmless, if it continues vigorously into adulthood it can lead to real dental problems including crooked teeth and a crowded mouth.

Most children stop sucking their thumbs by the age of two to four. If they continue past this age it is important to talk with them about stopping the habit. Often this can be accomplished with simple reminders and positive reinforcement. It is never a good idea to scold or ridicule your child for their habit, this will only make it more difficult for them to break the behavior. If your child is having trouble breaking their thumb sucking habit a consultation with a dentist or orthodontist may be helpful.

Some children may develop a bad habit of sucking their thumbs and fingers while they sleep. This is called nocturnal thumb sucking or nocturnal finger sucking and can cause long-term problems with their teeth and jaws.

Vigorous thumb sucking puts pressure on the roof of a child’s mouth, causing it to change shape and making it harder for the front teeth to fit together properly. This can create an overbite, deep bite or open bite. This can also make chewing with the front teeth harder and may even contribute to snoring or sleep apnea. If your child is sucking their thumb while they are sleeping it is recommended to have them wear a mouthguard, which will help prevent this problem.


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