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Thumb sucking can be an all too common habit for many children. It is also an instinctual, natural reflex for many children as a way to soothe themselves. However, over time thumb sucking can be detrimental to a child’s dental and physical development. While it is perfectly natural and healthy when a child is in its infant stages that same habit can become very problematic as they begin to develop teeth and socialize with others.

Is Thumb Sucking Normal?

Yes! It is quite normal. The thumb sucking can occur even in the womb. As infants, children learn about the world thru putting things in their mouths but eventually it becomes a soothing mechanism to make them feel secure and happy and even help them to fall asleep.

Dental Issues From Thumb Sucking

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics treatment for dental problems caused by thumb sucking is generally needed only in children who continue to suck their thumbs past their fifth birthday.

Thumb Sucking Habit marielaina Perrone DDSOnce the permanent teeth begin to erupt and develop in the mouth, the constant thumb sucking may cause dental issues. The common sign is the top teeth push out and upward, and bottom teeth to push inward. This tooth movement due to thumb sucking can cause the following issues:

-Development of a “buck tooth” appearance

-Inability to close the front teeth (open bite)

-Damage to the roof of the mouth

Speech issues

Pacifiers are known to cause similar issues as thumb sucking but the habit of using the pacifier is a far easier habit to break, it can be thrown out, whereas a finger can not. The determining factor if thumb sucking causes dental problems or not, includes the intensity and length of time of the thumb sucking. Checking a child’s thumb for damaged skin and calluses can help determine the severity of the thumb sucking habit. Many children simply rest their thumbs in their mouth and do not actively suck on them. These children are far less likely to develop any long term dental issues from this type of thumb sucking. Aggressive thumb sucking however will have a higher likelihood of developing issues with their primary and permanent teeth if the thumb sucking habit continues.

Speech problems caused by thumb sucking are related to the misaligned teeth, distorted palate, and tongue thrusting. The tongue does not have the ability to find the correct placement for proper enunciation, and the tongue muscle actually needs to be retrained for proper placement of sounds. Tongue thrusting is the pushing forward motion of the tongue when swallowing, causing a continued pressure on the teeth even when not thumb sucking. Speech problems can include not being able to properly say S’s, T’s and D’s, lisping, and tongue thrusting when talking.

Children who are thumb sucking may need treatment include:

-Those who have not stopped thumb sucking on their own by age 4-5.

Speech problems are becoming noticeable due to thumb sucking.

-Peer Pressure – If they are teased or feel embarrassed socially by their thumb sucking.

Tips For Breaking The Thumb Sucking Habit

Breaking a thumb sucking habit will not be easy. The longer your child does it the harder it is to break them of the thumb sucking habit. The following are some tips to help move the process along and break them of their thumb sucking habit.

Communication. Talk to your child about their thumb sucking habit. Explain how it can affect their teeth and kids might make fun of them. Ask how they feel and what you can do to help? Talk about alternative options when the thumb sucking urge comes on.

-Positive reinforcement. This works wonders with children especially of this age. Simple rewards like extra play time or a trip to the park can go a long way to helping break the thumb sucking habit.

Ignore The Issue. Some kids have a thumb sucking problem as an avenue for attention. I would not recommend this as a long term way of breaking thumb sucking habit but it is worth exploring.

-Offer Up An Alternative. Parents should give their child encouragement and offer to do a different activity when they feel the thumb sucking urge coming on. Could be something like squeezing a pillow or hugging their favorite toy.

Speak To Your Dentist. As an authority figure in your child;s life they may have more impact in this area. Your child may listen to them more intently. Your dentist will also offer dental treatment options. These can include:

-Behavioral Therapy.

-Special Nail Polish. This nail polish will be placed over thumb nail and have a foul taste for your child when they go into thumb sucking habit.

-Thumb sucking device that covers thumb. This will physically make it hard to get comfort when thumb sucking.

-Dental Habit Appliance. This is a custom made dental appliance that will make it impossible for your child to continue thumb sucking comfortably.

Thumb Sucking Conclusion

Breaking your child’s thumb sucking habit will take patience and persistence on both your parts. It is a very difficult habit to break especially the longer it is allowed to continue. If you need help call your dentist. Sometimes a group effort is what is needed. Also, be aware that putting too much pressure on yourself or your child can make matters worse. Best to take a calm, methodical approach.

Wishing Everyone A Safe And Merry Christmas 2019



As we are in the middle of the Holiday season there are lots of tempting treats to pick on. Most are okay in moderation but some are likely to create problems for your dental health. Issues that could be created include tooth decay and even fractured teeth. Below are a listing of some to be careful of:

Popcorn. An old holiday favorite usually eaten at the movies but around holiday time regular old popcorn isn’t good enough We now add coated caramel on top. Under normal circumstances popcorn presents dental challenges for our teeth due to biting on popcorn kernels and popcorn husks getting lodged between teeth. Those pesky popcorn kernels have been known to cause broken teeth and fracture fillings. Add the caramel and it is a recipe for disaster as the caramel masks the kernels and sticks in and around your teeth. This can break a tooth, or create an environment with increased risk for development of tooth decay. So think twice and beware if indulging in this holiday favorite.

Dried Fruit. Seems like this would be a healthy snack but the sugars in the dried fruit are concentrated and their dry texture makes them stick longer to teeth. This allows acid producing bacteria in your mouth to have a chance to work on your tooth enamel. Be smart, and floss after or chose fresh fruit instead.

White Flour Crackers. We love these crackers with cheese spreads as a pre holiday meal snack. Did you know the bleached white flour turns almost immediately into sugar, which is food for the bacteria in your mouth to create an acid filled environment for tooth decay. Choose whole grain versions of these favorite crackers for better dental health as well as general health.

Candy Canes. A traditional favorite that can also cause fractures to teeth if you choose to bite into them. Sucking on hard candy makes the sugar acids linger longer in your mouth. Break off a small piece, and drink water after.

Christmas cookies and fudge.These are hard to pass up, especially at a party! Remember that very high sugar content, white flour and the stickiness are the contributors to tooth decay. Try eating some carrots or celery directly after you partake in these sweet treats.

Peanut brittle. Some peanut brittle is harder or stickier than others. You can pull out a crown or filling or break a tooth. Try moistening a small piece in your mouth to soften it before chewing. You will certainly need to floss after this snack!

Dental Hygiene Tips for Holidays

Drink Water. Plenty of it to swish and rinse your mouth.This will reduce the acid producing sugars and food debris from holiday snacking.

Crunch on raw veggies. They will help clear the stickiness and stimulate salivary flow.

Brush and Floss After Snacking. Brushing and flossing after snacking will neutralize the acid build up and not allow the tooth enamel to be broken down.

Enjoy the Holidays, just use your judgement to make good choices. You can still eat the special foods you love, just do it wisely. Remember, smiles are contagious, spread some holiday cheer with your beautiful smile!

Wishing Everyone A Happy And Healthy Hanukkah Season 2019