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What Does Thumb Sucking Do to Your Child’s Teeth?

What Does Thumb Sucking Do to Your Child’s Teeth?

Thumb sucking can cause serious issues for your baby’s teeth and even speech development down the line.

Many children suck their thumbs. This may be a soothing habit, or it may occur out of boredom. It is generally recommended that pacifier use is stopped at about 18 months, but thumb sucking can be a much harder habit to break because of the endorphins related to the sucking reflex that babies are born with. But thumb sucking can cause serious issues for your baby’s teeth and even speech development down the line. Here are just a few of the ways that thumb sucking can affect your child’s teeth.

Bite Issues

Sucking on a thumb or pacifier may soothe your child in the short term, but it can actually cause problems with their bite down the line. If your child always keeps a thumb or other object between their teeth, they may wind up suffering from a type of malocclusion called an open bite. This irregular tooth growth means the top and bottom teeth are unable to make contact with one other, and it can take orthodontic surgery to correct in adults.

Palatal Narrowing

Another issue with the development of your baby’s mouth that can result from thumb sucking is palatal narrowing. Chronic thumb sucking can result in the soft palate of your child’s mouth to develop unusually high and narrowly. This can result in breathing problems and is even associated with certain sleep disorders.

Improper Tooth Alignment

Chronic thumb sucking can result in serious tooth and gum issues in children, including improper tooth alignment. Improper alignment in baby teeth can cause much more serious issues down the line for your child’s dental health. In fact, the adult teeth can wind up severely misaligned and require braces or even oral surgery, which can be painful as well as expensive.


Beyond the health of your child’s mouth, thumb sucking can also cause problems with their thumbs and hands. Callouses can form on your child’s hands that are related to thumb sucking. What’s more, your child can get sick from sucking on their thumbs, especially if they’re getting into messes or things they aren’t supposed to be touching.

Speech Issues

Down the line, chronic thumb sucking can even cause breathing and speech issues. The tongue actions related to speech can be impacted by chronic thumb sucking, which can cause speech impediments or delayed speech development in children.

To prevent thumb sucking, strictly limit pacifier use and wean children off of them at about 18 months. Remember to praise and reward children from refraining if they are having trouble quitting the habit. For especially stubborn thumb sucking in their sleep, try having children wear mittens at night so they can’t suck their thumbs unconsciously.

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This entry was posted on Friday, November 16th, 2018 at . Both comments and pings are currently closed.