Thumb Sucking

Thumb sucking, including various types of fingers is a very common habit observed in children. It is considered a normal phenomenon during the first two years of life. Studies show that thumb sucking habits are found in approximately 90% of American children under the age of four. Thumb sucking may develop early in life, starting in utero and during infancy and continue through the primary dentition and into mixed and adult dentitions.

When should thumb sucking habits stop?

Although thumb sucking is a normal phenomenon during the first two years of life, prolonged thumb sucking beyond the age of three can result in malocclusion.
Most children stop these habits on their own, but if thumb sucking continues past the age of three, corrective procedures should be initiated.

How can thumb sucking affect my child’s teeth?

The most common effect of thumb sucking is malocclusion. This can include:

Change in the size and shape of the palate (upper arch)
• The upper arch may become narrowed or V-shaped instead of U-shaped

Protrusion/Intrusion of the upper anterior teeth
• Flaring of the upper teeth toward the lip.

Anterior Open Bite
• Absence of vertical overlap of the upper and lower incisors.

Posterior Cross Bite
• The upper and lower teeth when closed together do not meet correctly.
• One or more of the top teeth bite inside the lower teeth instead of outside the lower teeth.

Other non-dental affects can include infected thumb, peer teasing, germ spreading and speech difficulties.

How can I help my child stop Thumb-sucking?
• Gentle encouragement
o Praising your child for not sucking their thumb.
o Having your child’s dentist explain the effects of thumb sucking on their teeth.
o Use of a reward system, such a calendar with stickers for every day that your child does not suck their thumb.

• Bandaging your child’s hand or placing a sock or glove at night time as a reminder.
• Use of anti-thumb sucking liquids
o Please consult with your pediatrician or dentist before use of any topical liquids to help in a cessation of thumb sucking.

• Use of a fixed orthodontic appliance, consult with your pediatric dentist about the best appliance for your child.

If your child struggles with thumb sucking please call us today to schedule a free consultation. Our expert dentist will be happy to assist you in determining the best corrective procedure for your child. Call us today at 708-633-8700 to schedule an appointment.