How Thumb Sucking Can Impact Your Child’s Smile

How Thumb Sucking Can Impact Your Child’s Smile

When Should They Stop?

We all know it’s normal for babies to suck their thumbs, but when does this habit become an issue? Most children will naturally stop between the ages of three to six. As bone changes can occur as early as 18 months, it is important to monitor how intensely your child may be sucking. One way you can check if your child is sucking too hard is by looking for calluses on their thumbs. During the early years when thumb sucking does not present risk, we suggest promoting pacifier use instead. This is because it is smoother, and more delicate than a moving finger! Just be mindful the pacifier use should stop at the same recommended time as thumb sucking.  

What Are The Risks?

Children that suck their thumbs past the recommended age may be at risk for speech problems. Not being able to say T’s, D’s, and lisping is a common complication for prolonged thumb sucking. Your child’s bite can also be at risk of protruding front teeth, a narrowing of the palate or an open bite due to their thumb pressing against their growing bones and teeth.  This can potentially lead to low self-esteem as your child may not feel confident with their smile.

What Can You Do?

Children sucking their thumbs is completely normal. Babies do this to self-sooth and to help relax. It’s important to keep an eye out for over indulgence, and to always watch what your child is putting in their mouth. A good ‘ ‘rule of thumb’ is to encourage stopping the thumb sucking habit before the permanent teeth erupt in the mouth. The best course of action is to take your child to an orthodontist by age seven. A professional will keep an eye out for the effects of thumb sucking, and to help ensure your child’s permanent teeth grow into a better position!

Lets Talk!

Kids Dental Group has locations in Richmond Hill, Markham and Stouffville. Our incredible team is dedicated to your child’s oral health and would love to discuss more! Learn about your child’s first dental visit and our services for teen orthodontics! Email us at or fill out our online form to book a consultation.


Add comment