About Thumb Sucking

The purpose of thumb sucking is to soothe your child. In lieu of a pacifier, it gives kids a kind of security. They can fall asleep with their thumb in their mouth. They can stop crying when hungry or upset if they put their thumb in their mouth.

It starts to become a problem when the teeth come in. At first, it may not be a problem, but once their teeth get completely through the gums, the pressure of the thumb against them can make a change - not only in the teeth but in the mouth as well.

Children don’t just suck on their thumbs; they let them rest behind the teeth. Over time, this action pushes the teeth forward in the mouth. Have you seen a child who is a chronic thumb sucker? They can have the bucktooth look where their upper teeth create a rounded and severe overbite. Even their lip moves outward to cover those teeth.

When the thumb rests against the palate on the roof of the mouth, it can work to change the shape of the mouth. When the shape of the mouth is altered, so is our pronunciation. They can have a hard time making certain sounds and being understood by others when they begin to speak. That can require the use of speech therapy to correct what has been done.

What can be the result of all of this? The teeth may need to have braces put on to straighten them and push them back together if gaps exist due to thumb sucking.

To avoid problems with teeth, it is important to help your child to stop sucking their thumb early on in their life. It is preferable that they have stopped by the time that they start school. Some children stop at six or seven but that is at the upper range of things.

One way to get them to stop is to tell them exactly what can happen. Kids don’t like to stick out and be different from their peers. Having teeth that stick out or not being able to pronounce their words can lead to teasing by other kids. Appealing to their sense of vanity as children can help them to wean themselves off of the thumb. If that doesn’t work, try using a less than tasty substance on their thumbs to train their brain to leave it alone.

Thumb sucking can damage a child’s mouth if it goes on too long after their teeth have started to come in. Stopping the habit as soon as possible is recommended.