Thumb sucking

Thumb sucking

You may have heard thumb sucking can cause ‘buck teeth’: here are some facts about thumb sucking and how it may affect your children’s teeth.

There are two important factors when determining if thumb sucking is going to affect your teeth, age and intensity. Most children stop sucking on thumbs, pacifiers or other objects on their own between 2 and 4 years of age. No harm is done to their teeth or jaws until permanent teeth start to come through. However if thumb sucking doesn’t stop problems can arise. Problems can vary between patients these include: an overbite or protrusion which is what many call ‘buck teeth’.  Open bites are also very common this creates a gap between the top and bottom teeth in order to accommodate for the thumb or pacifier.

Here are some strategies that can be used to help stop thumb sucking:

  • Praise children for not sucking, instead of scolding them when they do.
  • If a child is sucking its thumb when feeling insecure or needing comfort, focus instead on correcting the cause of the anxiety and provide comfort to your child.
  • If a child is sucking on its thumb because of boredom, try getting the child's attention with a fun activity.
  • Involve older children in the selection of a means to cease thumb sucking.
  • The dentist can show children images of what can happen if he or she does not stop thumb sucking
  • Only if these tips are ineffective, remind the child of its habit by bandaging the thumb or putting a sock/glove on the hand at night.
  • Or alternatively: an oral device can be placed in the child's mouth to interfere with the pleasure response produced by the thumb-sucking behavior. Common devices such as palatal arches and cribs fit into the roof of the child's mouth. The device may be removed when the child ceases the thumb-sucking behavior.

Head on over to our orthodontics page to see what we can do for you and your child