Dental Health Effects of Thumb Sucking in Kids

Some parents are worried about their child thumb sucking habit. Medically, it can be a natural response; some infants develop this habit in the womb. American Dental Association stated thumb sucking as a normal habit for little babies. Moreover, it also appears to aid baby relaxation and often increases when breastfeeding or bottle feedings are reduced.

Thumb Sucking and Dental Health

Although it is a normal phenomenon, and passive thumb sucking does not cause any damage to little babies. On the other hand, prolonged or vigorous thumb sucking, is not a normal, and it can lead to some health complications. If a baby is a thumb sucking harshly, it is quite possible that damage the permanent teeth, mouth, jaw, and oral cavity might occur.

It can cause several types of occlusion problems, the damage can become permanent if the habit hasn’t stopped by the age of 5, and if it continues after the eruption of permanent teeth.

The Most common malocclusion associated with thumb sucking are:

Open Bite from Thumb Sucking

Open bite is the most common side effect, in this case the upper and lower front teeth don’t touch, while the posterior teeth are in bite, the patient is not able to cut things using the front teeth!

The open bite might disappear if the habit is discovered and treated early, if the activity goes on after the age of 5, and during adolescence the habit might affect the growth of the jaws permanently, and a surgical treatment might become necessary at the adult age.

Cross Bite from Thumb Sucking

In these cases, the upper jaw is often too narrow because of the lower position of the tongue posture, that is caused by the position of the thumb.

Increased over jet from Thumb Sucking

In this case the upper teeth are so much protruded compared to the lower front teeth. This can be associated with what we call in Orthodontics: Class II malocclusion.

Speech Impediment from Thumb Sucking

It can also affect the development of language in several ways, and it is related to a speech impediment.
Speech impediments can make it harder for your child to communicate efficiently. Most children with speech impediments also experience high levels of anger, frustration, and feelings of isolation.


Thumb sucking can be normal at a very young age, but this habit should stop as soon as possible so no damage occurs to the teeth and jaws.

An early visit to the dentist is the best way to avoid the bad consequences.

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