Effects of Thumb-Sucking on Childrens Dental Health

Prolonged thumb sucking, as well as using a pacifier, are common dental problems in children and can negatively impact your child’s smile over time. Most commonly, babies and toddlers feed with their thumbs or pacifiers to relieve or calm anxiety.

If your child is still sucking his/her thumb as the permanent teeth grow in, or will not relinquish the pacifier, you may have to help and stop finger sucking habit in order to prevent dental problems in the future.

Why is thumb sucking dangerous?

Using thumb and pacifier suction has several positive benefits for babies and young children. This provides your child with a coping mechanism when they are feeling anxious or overwhelmed, and often starts when the baby is gritting his teeth.

Unfortunately, there are also downsides to using a pacifier and chronic thumb sucking. If thumb sucking is only a short-term habit, it usually doesn’t have much effect on your child’s smile. However, if your child is four, five, or even older and is still using a pacifier or sucking their thumb, it can negatively impact their teeth, jaw and other aspects of development.

Problems with malocclusion

Excessive suction of the thumb and pacifier can cause problems with improper occlusion or misalignment of the upper and lower teeth. The most common false occlusion is known as an open bite.

An open bite means that the upper and lower front teeth will not touch each other even with the mouth closed. In essence, prolonged thumb suction can cause fissures and misalignment of the teeth and jaw.