Dental Implant

Can thumb sucking cause any problems?

Just during infancy, thumb sucking isn’t a problem. Thumb and finger sucking can impact a child’s mouth and jaw as early as 2 years old. The sucking exerts pressure on the soft tissues on the roof of the mouth and sides of the upper jaw. The pressure can cause the upper jaw to narrow, which prevents the teeth from meeting properly when the jaw is closed.

The severity of the physical problems stemming from the habit depends on how vigorously a child sucks their thumb. If they simply rest their thumb in their mouth without sucking too much, there will probably be fewer problems than if the movement is active.

However, if a child stops digit sucking before the eruption of their permanent teeth (usually around age 6), the changes to the mouth and teeth may self-resolve and not require any braces to correct. When a child sucks their thumbs until after they have lost baby teeth, their permanent teeth may have a “buck teeth” appearance. It's important to tell your child’s dentist about their thumb-sucking habit. Early identification of problems is key to resolving them.

Note: There are some misconceptions, such as the belief that thumb sucking can cause speech disabilities. This is nothing but an unsubstantiated claim without any facts to prove it.