Thumbsucking & Dental Health in Children

Sucking on pacifiers, fingers, and other objects is a way that children find comfort and security and it often helps them fall asleep.  It’s soothing and natural but at a certain point it can cause problems with the growth of their mouth and the alignment of their teeth.

To what extent thumbsucking will affect your child’s teeth is often determined by how intensely they suck.  If their thumb is simply resting in their mouth they may have no dental issues at all.  If your child however, is aggressively sucking his or her thumb, problems could develop with their primary teeth.

Most of the time children stop sucking their thumb between the ages of two and four.  If thumbsucking does not stop or you are concerned about its affect on your child’s teeth, talk to the dentist.  If the habit doesn’t subside on its own or with the tips below, the dentist may prescribe an unpleasant medication that coats their thumb or a mouth appliance.

How can I get my child to stop sucking his thumb?

  • – Praise your child for not sucking.
  • – Since thumbsucking is often for comfort, work on the cause of anxiety that your child experiences.
  • – If your child is older, get them involved in the method chosen in order to stop the sucking.
  • – Get the dentist involved – have the dentist explain to your child the damage that thumbsucking will cause.
  • – You may need to even bandage the thumb or put a sock on their hand at night.

If you notice changes with your child’s teeth or are concerned about his or her habit that isn’t subsiding make an appointment to consult with the dentist to consider the best course of action.