Generally, kids suck their thumb or other objects to develop a sense of emotional comfort and security.

Dental consequences of thumb sucking

Many studies have concluded that if a child stops sucking their thumb by the age of three, there is no harm caused to the teeth or jaws. However, if the thumb sucking continues beyond that age, especially after five years old when the adult teeth are erupting, dental problems may appear. Teeth can become misaligned by tilting more forward. In addition, there could be a bad relation created between the upper and lower jaws.

Solutions to stop thumb sucking

One must remember that it is normal for children to suck their thumb when they are very young. There should only be concern after the age of four or five, especially when the adult teeth start appearing.

There are some ways to stop this habit:

  • Encourage the child with positive reinforcement. Since thumb sucking is a form of emotional security, negative reinforcement (reprimand, punishment) has generally no effect, making children rather defensive, and bringing them back to the habit.
  • Instead encourage children, or even reward them for the amount of time they don’t suck their thumbs. The time without sucking should also be increased gradually in order to receive the reward.
  • It is possible to cover the thumb with a bandage to remind them not to suck.
  • It is recommended to remove the child’s thumb from his mouth if he falls asleep while sucking it.
  • If none of the methods work, there are appliances that exist to change the habit that the child wears in his mouth to stop him from sucking.


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The information above should be used as a reference only. Any medical decision should not be taken before consulting a health care professional.

The masculine gender may have been more used in the article, but without prejudice, to make reading easier.

Category: Children