Is Thumbsucking Bad for Teeth?


Although most children stop sucking their thumbs between the ages of two and four, thumbsucking may have already taken a toll on their pearly whites. Thumbsucking is an absolutely natural reflex for infants that sometimes carries into toddlerhood, preschool years, and beyond.

Will Thumbsucking Cause Only Cosmetic Dental Damage?

The effects of thumbsucking are far from purely cosmetic. Although it can cause crooked teeth, thumbsucking poses several dental dangers that can affect your child’s health. 

Prolonged or frequent thumbsucking can lead to improper teeth alignment, and abnormal mouth and roof-of-mouth growth. Children who suck their thumbs more vigorously than others are at greater risk for further dental problems as they grow.

Beyond the Look of Cosmetics

Because the mouth is the gateway for eating, speaking, and breathing, thumbsucking can affect each one of these processes. Misaligned teeth can make it difficult, or even painful, for your child to chew properly and, over time, can also affect the jaw alignment.

Thumbsucking can impair your child’s ability to properly open and close his mouth due to misalignment of the teeth and jaws, so your child’s speech may also suffer. He may begin to find it difficult to create certain sounds, especially those that require certain movements of the teeth and tongue.  

Perhaps the scariest side effect of thumbsucking is its ability to affect your child’s respiratory system. Prolonged or frequent thumbsucking can create a narrow palate and deform the teeth, mouth, and throat, causing problems for air intake to move properly through the mouth. 

We are Here to Help!

Sullivan Family Dental is happy to help you and your child reverse the effects of prolonged thumbsucking. We provide preventative oral care services for children like x-rays, cleaning, and chip or fracture repair. If your child’s teeth require more extensive repairs, we also provide orthodontic care for misaligned teeth. Contact us today to discuss your child’s options for a healthy smile.