Does Thumb Sucking Damage Kids Teeth?

\"thumbIt\’s a common question we\’ve heard many times: Will thumb sucking damage my child\’s teeth?

It\’s a common question because it\’s a very common and natural thing that kids do. They suck their thumbs. Some do it from almost the time they\’re born. Others pick it up along the way.

For some kids, it\’s just a phase. For others, it\’s a cause for alarm when their child is still sucking their thumb even as they\’re heading into kindergarten.

Being a little kid can make you feel small and uncertain in a big world. By sucking on a thumb, fingers, a pacifier or a toy, it can give a child a small sense of security and happiness as they navigate a world they know little about.

We specialize in pediatric dentistry questions. Call us at (972) 964-3774

How can thumb sucking affect teeth?

The biggest concern about pacifiers and thumb sucking are when the permanent teeth start to come in.

At this point, it can cause issues with the natural growth of the mouth and alignment of the teeth and cause an open bite. It can also cause changes in the roof of the mouth.

The intensity of thumb sucking will determine if dental problems occur.  Different kids will suck their thumbs and pacifiers differently. Some will rest their thumbs very gently in their mouth, and are less likely to cause damage.

Some children though will suck their thumbs very intensely, enough to even cause problems with their primary (baby) teeth.

How to break the thumb sucking habit?

  • Be sure to praise your child for not sucking their thumb
  • Try to find ways to alleviate any potential anxiety
  • Have other adults, even the dentist, to praise them for not thumb sucking
  • Try to limit thumb sucking to a bed time activity, not a public activity
  • Help make them aware of thumb sucking when they do it unconsciously
  • Encourage them that they\’re \”growing up\” and \”getting big\” and that their heroes don\’t suck their thumbs
  • Remember they will grow out if it naturally at some point. Try not to make it into a big issue.
  • More information at WebMD

David Wilhite and our team our experienced pediatric dentists. We\’re here to help your kids have healthy teeth and terrific smiles. Call us with any questions or for an appointment at (972) 964-3774

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Photo credit: Pedro Reyna



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