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Thumb Sucking

Does thumb sucking damage teeth?

Many parents are concerned about damage to a child’s teeth from thumb sucking. Even those who have helped their children stop thumb sucking remain worried about the long-term effects on oral health.

The good news is that research shows, that damage to teeth can be stopped, and even reversed, but proactive action is needed.

Read on to find out three ways in which thumb sucking can damage teeth – and five ways to stop thumb sucking and the associated long-term damage.

Thumb sucking damages teeth? – Yes it can.

  1. Tooth placement

As a result of thumb sucking, a child’s upper front teeth can often protrude, meaning they become more prominent and “stick out”. Alongside possible embarrassment for your child, this can also have a long-term impact on bite and overall oral health.

  1. Overbite

While the top teeth can start to protrude, the lower teeth typically do not. This results in an overbite where the top and bottom teeth do not properly touch. This, in turn, can lead to issues with speech and the ability to chew correctly.

  1. Jaw alignment

The early years of a child’s physical development are crucial, and it is important to ensure habits such as thumb sucking do not have a detrimental impact on growth. In some serious cases, excessive thumb sucking can lead to misaligned jaws where the upper jaw is too narrow for the lower jaw.  This can be especially serious and is more difficult to correct than an overbite.

Ways to stop thumb sucking – and protect teeth

  1. Communication

Thumb sucking is an entirely natural reflex which starts in the womb. Children who suck their thumb typically do so as a means of comfort and security. It is important for parents to communicate with their child about their thumb sucking, to show that they are there to listen and to work together to help their child break the habit. Co-operation is key!

  1. Address the underlying causes

Children often start their thumb sucking in times of uncertainty. They gain comfort from the habit and its sense of routine. Perhaps your child has started a new school? Maybe you have recently moved house or even city? Could your child be anxious about something happening in their lives?

If you can address the underlying cause – the reason why they are seeking comfort – it will be much easier to break the thumb sucking habit.

  1. Rewards

At Thumbsie®, we are huge fans of a reward system. Evidence shows that setting goals for your child and offering rewards when those goals are met is an effective approach.

These can be goals you set as a family, for example: “If you go two hours without sucking your thumb, you can stay up an extra half-hour before bed tonight.”

Or you can use our very own Reward Pack to help you along the way. This comes with three A4 reward charts and over 150 stickers. They are hugely popular – and effective – as proven by our 4.8 out of 5 stars on Goggle Reviews.

  1. Seek help from an oral health professional

In the most serious cases, where long-term damage has been caused, it is important to speak with a dentist or orthodontist. They may recommend a brace, although this would only be for older children and as a last resort, and they usually like the thumb sucking habit to have stopped first.

They may also recommend a Thumbsie®…..

Dinosaur Thumbsie® Thumb Guard
Dinosaur Thumbsie® Thumb Guard
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  1. Thumbsie®

A Thumbsie® is a fabric, handmade thumb guard which fits over a thumb like a glove. Children wear these to help them stop thumb sucking. Thumbsies come in five different sizes and have a wide range of designs from dinosaurs to flowers, and from footballs to unicorns.

A Thumbsie®covers the thumb and acts as a constant reminder to a child when they place their thumb in their mouth. They are suitable for boys and girls from the age of three years. Children can wear them all day as they should not restrict them playing, writing or painting – they can even wear them to school.

Best of all, dentists from all over the world have recommended Thumbsies to their patients and we are extremely proud to be officially accredited by the Oral Health Foundation.

Sadly, damage to teeth from thumb sucking is a serious problem. But the good news is that with the right approach, good communication, and the help of a Thumbsie®, the habit can be broken for good and irreversible damage can be avoided.


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