Thumb Sucking


Thumb sucking is generally natural for infants and may possibly begin in the womb. According to the American Dental Association, however, if it persists into the ages of 3 or 4, it can have a deleterious effect on the teeth and jaw as they develop. In fact, chronic thumb sucking might result in severe dental and speech difficulties. More than sixty percent of ten-year-old thumb suckers have severely misaligned teeth, according to research.


Thumb sucking can lead to speech issues such as lisping and imprecise pronunciation if it is not stopped. If the habit has been abandoned, natural tooth improvement can occur.

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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