Thumb Sucking and Soothers


Thumb sucking and use of soothers are completely natural reflexes for toddlers as it makes gives them comfort and makes them feel secure. In some cases, it can even be noticed in the womb. It can be used as a coping mechanism when toddlers are away from their parents and can also help some babies and toddlers to fall asleep. At Smile Hub Dental Clinic, we understand that parents can have concerns about their children who have not grown out of the habit and can provide some insight into the effects it can have on children’s teeth.


At Smile Hub Dental Clinic, we have come across many older children who may such their thumb or use a soother and realise that it is in the best interest of the child to get them to stop this habit. Thumb sucking and soothers should be discouraged from the age of 4 as constant thumb sucking could start to affect the development of the child’s teeth and jaw causing adult teeth to be misaligned. There are many things that can be done to try stop a child from sucking their thumb. Placing objects on the thumb such as a bandage or a glove can help. Make sure to always be positive and encourage the child as negativity can cause stress and make the problem worse. Here at Smile Hub Dental Clinic, we can provide you and your child with information about the positive effects stopping sucking their thumb or using a soother can have.


If thumb sucking or soothers are still a habit by the age of 5 or 6 it can cause many oral problems. The pressure from the constant sucking may lead to front teeth moving forward and their bite will be open so that the incisors can’t touch. The changes in your child’s skeleton can lead to misalignment of adult teeth so the child will need orthodontic treatment. In severe cases an appliance may be positioned on the palate of the mouth to stop the habit and hopefully increase the chance that the bit will be corrected.


If you feel like your child has a bad habit of either thumb sucking or using a soother that needs intervention, you can book online or call us on 01 5253888.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the cause of thumb sucking in older children and adults?

There are many reasons why people suck their thumbs. It is a natural reflex as a child and when we get older it could be caused by anxiety, stress or age regression. As a young toddler it is perfectly acceptable but once we get older it can cause blisters and misalignment problems with teeth. Most children stop sucking their thumb as toddlers but may need intervention if it continues into adolescence.

Does a soother affect teeth?

Using a soother for a baby and toddler is completely safe and can help to comfort them and make them feel secure. There is only a problem with soothers if they are continued to be used when a child gets older. It can cause the teeth to be misaligned so that the top and bottom teeth stick out and don’t touch. It is important for a child to stop using a soother from about the age of four to prevent any dental problems.

Is thumb sucking hereditary?

Thumb sucking can be influenced by genes that are affecting a child’s behaviour. Most the time children suck their thumb when they are bored or to make them feel better if they are anxious or nervous.

How can I stop my Child from thumb sucking or soothers?

  • Try to talk to your child and explain to them that it is not a good habit which can sometimes make them understand that they need to stop. Sometimes bringing them to the dentist and getting the dentist to help explain can also make them stop.


  • If your child uses this behaviour to get their way or for attention, try to ignore the thumb sucking to let them know it will not work and will hopefully help them to stop.


  • Positive reinforcement can work wonders for stopping this habit. Praising your child and rewarding them can show them that it is a good thing to stop.
  • Identify triggers which may cause your child to use a soother or suck their thumb. Once you recognise these warnings try to comfort them with a hug or a teddy instead.

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    01 5253888

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    Smile Hub Dental Clinic, Bayside Medical Centre, Bayside Shopping Centre, Sutton, Dublin 13