Thumb Sucking

Sucking the thumb is considered normal behaviour for babies and may even start in the womb. But if it continues after the age of four or five, it will have negative and lasting effects on the child jaw growth.

Thumb sucking has the following effects on the mouth and teeth:

  • An open bite in the front: The front teeth in the upper jaw and the lower jaw cannot meet.
  • The back teeth in the upper jaw are pushed inward towards the palate, affecting the bite.
  • High palate: The pressure from the thumb on the growing palate bone affects the shape of the palate.

If the habit is interrupted in early years, the bite recovers and the permanent teeth often grow into a correct position without the need of orthodontic treatment.

How to stop thumb sucking?

  • Support and encourage your child to stop. Do not nag or pull the thumb out as this may have an adverse effect.
  • You could try coating your child’s thumb with a taste you know they find unappealing such as vinegar.
  • Consult your dentist.
  • Be patient, most children grow out of the habit eventually with some encouragement.