Sensational smiles patient

Thumb sucking

Thumb SuckingThumb sucking, in some children, is the normal response to having a dummy removed. The severity of a child’s thumb sucking influences the positioning of their teeth. If a child holds their thumb loosely in their mouth, then this is unlikely to cause major issues. However, if a child aggressively sucks their thumb, the positioning of both baby and adult teeth may be affected.

When should my child stop sucking their thumb?

 Ideally at the age of 2-4 years old a child will break the habit of thumb sucking. This is in line with the expected age of a child’s first adult teeth. A child’s first adult teeth typically begin to show at the age of 6 years old. If a child has not broken the habit of thumb sucking by then, there may be consequences on the positioning of their adult teeth.

What happens to the growth of adult teeth when my child is thumb sucking?

A child will typically hold their thumb in between where their front two teeth sit. When adult teeth are growing, the teeth will be forced around where a child’s thumb sits and not in the rightful positions. This can cause a gap between the front two teeth as well as an outward protrusion, also known as an open bite.

How can I encourage my child to stop sucking their thumb?

  • Take note of the times your child isn’t sucking their thumb and praise them for it
  • Try to find a link between the time of day or the activities your child is performing that may be associated with their thumb sucking. If causation is addressed then thumb sucking may become as an easier habit to break.
  • Have a reminder that will help your child stop. This may be wrapping their thumb with a bandage or putting a sock over their hand while they sleep. Your doctor may suggest the prescription of a bitter nail polish that will keep their thumb away.
  • Involve your child in the decision making process so that they are enabled and filled with confidence needed to break the habit