As parents, you want your children to develop good habits from a young age. However, sometimes children can unconsciously develop habits that are not good for their health, such as thumb sucking.

Thumb sucking is common among children, but many don’t know the long-term effects it can have on their teeth. Below, we will discuss how thumb-sucking affects your child’s dental health and how our team at Advanced Indiana in Anderson, IN, can help prevent further damage.

But First, Why Do Children Suck Their Thumbs?

As a parent, you have probably observed that your child enjoys sucking their thumb. Although thumb-sucking is a common habit in children, it can cause dental problems if it persists past a certain age. But how exactly? We’re glad you asked.

Comfort and Security

Thumb-sucking is a self-soothing mechanism that children use to comfort themselves when they feel stressed, anxious, or afraid. Many children start sucking their thumbs as early as the first few weeks of life, and it usually peaks between the ages of two and four. When a child feels the need to suck their thumb, it provides a sense of comfort and security, making them feel calm and relaxed. However, prolonged thumb-sucking can have a drastic effect on your child’s dental health.

Oral Stimulation

Another reason for thumb-sucking is oral stimulation. Babies explore the world through their senses, and their mouths are no exception. Thumb-sucking provides them with oral stimulation, which is pleasurable and helps to calm them. This stimulation can continue even as a child grows older, leading to a habit that they find hard to break.

Effects of Thumb-Sucking on Your Child’s Dental Health

If your child is still sucking their thumb past the age of four, you may be wondering if it’s having any negative effects on their dental health. The truth is the effects of thumb-sucking can vary significantly depending on a few factors, like frequency and intensity.

It’s essential for parents to understand how this habit can have an impact; after all, taking good care of your child’s teeth and gums now will pay off years down the road when they become adults! Let’s talk about what you need to know about the habit of thumb-sucking and its effects on your children’s oral health.

Braces and Misaligned Teeth

If your child continues to suck their thumb after the age of four, it can affect the development of their teeth, causing them to become misaligned over periods of time. This misalignment can contribute to the need for braces or other orthodontic treatments later in life.

Overbite and Underbite

Active thumb sucking can also cause an overbite or underbite to develop in your child’s mouth. These conditions are when the top or bottom teeth protrude too far forward or behind the opposite set of teeth. This condition can lead to speaking, eating, and even breathing difficulties.

Dental Abnormalities

The constant pressure of thumb sucking can cause permanent changes in your child’s dental structure, resulting in dental abnormalities. These abnormalities can include a narrow palate, a smaller jawline, and even the formation of a gap between the front teeth.

Speech Impediments

The misalignment of teeth, an overbite or underbite, and other dental abnormalities caused by thumb-sucking can affect your child’s speech development. This is due to difficulties in forming sounds properly or speaking smoothly.

Increased Risk of Infection

Continuous thumb sucking is a potential means of transferring infection from the hands to the mouth. This is because bacteria and germs from the thumb will transfer to the mouth. Putting one’s fingers in and around the mouth increases the risk of catching a cold or infection.

Breaking Your Child’s Thumb-Sucking Habit

Breaking the thumb-sucking habit can be challenging, but it is important to prevent dental problems from developing. If your child is still sucking their thumb after the age of four, it’s time to intervene. There are a few things you can do to help them break the habit:

Be Patient

Don’t scold or punish your child for sucking their thumb; be patient and understanding. Being patient and not punishing or shaming your child is crucial, as this can worsen the habit.


When your child begins to suck their thumb, provide them with another activity that will distract them from this habit. You can do this by providing them with a toy, book, or game to occupy their attention.

Praise Them

When your child is successful in not sucking their thumb, give them praise for their efforts. Positive reinforcement can help reinforce the habit of not engaging in thumb-sucking behavior.

Thumb Guards

Thumb guards are plastic sleeves that fit over the thumb and make it uncomfortable to suck on them. Thumb guards can be helpful in breaking the bad habit, as it makes thumb-sucking difficult or unpleasant for your child.

Seeking Professional Help

If your child continues to suck their thumb despite your efforts, consider seeking professional help from experienced medical experts like Advanced Indiana. A pediatric dentist or therapist can help you develop a plan to break the habit, such as using a thumb guard or providing counseling. We at Advanced Indiana can also monitor your child’s dental health and provide treatment if necessary.

Cute girl getting tooth treatment

Get The Best Dental Check-ups For Your Child At Advanced Indiana!

As a parent, you want the best for your child. It’s essential to understand the potential long-term effects of thumb-sucking to be able to break the habit early on. By the age of four, if your child is still sucking their thumb, it’s best to speak with your pediatric dentist, who can provide additional advice on how to stop the habit and minimize any mouth issues.

So, make sure to keep a close eye on your child’s thumbsucking habit and support them in creating good dental habits that will benefit them in the long run. And for the best dental care, visit Advanced Indiana! Our experienced pediatric dentist and team are here to help you every step of the way. From regular check-ups to preventive treatments, we’ve got it all.

With us, your child is sure to have a healthy and beautiful smile! Contact us today and schedule an appointment with our dental experts!