Your Child’s Thumb-Sucking May Be Causing Crooked Teeth

Thumb-sucking is a natural and common habit among infants and toddlers, and generally not a cause for concern. Most children will stop sucking their thumb on their own between the ages of three and six [1]. However, some children continue the habit and need intervention from parents to stop.

If left to continue as the permanent teeth come in, thumb-sucking can impact your child’s jaw and tooth development, and may even lead to crooked teeth. Here’s what you need to know about your child’s thumb-sucking habit and their tooth development!

Thumb-Sucking Can Cause Issues With Tooth Development

If your child still sucks their thumb as their permanent teeth come in, it can cause issues with the growth and the alignment of the teeth [2]. Vigorous thumb suckers can even develop problems with their baby teeth. Due to the position of their thumb in their mouth, the teeth can actually grow “around” the finger, creating crowded or crooked teeth.

The same is also true for children who suck their thumbs for an extended period of time. This action can actually “push” the front teeth forward, which could lead to protruding teeth or crooked teeth.

May Also Cause an Improper Bite

Thumb-sucking past the age when the permanent teeth come in can cause a malocclusion, otherwise known as an improper bite [3]. The most common improper bite as a result of thumb-sucking is what’s called an open bite. An open bite happens when the jaw is at rest, but the front upper and lower teeth don’t align properly, and so there will be an open space. Both thumb and pacifier sucking can cause an open bite.

When the jaw doesn’t fit together properly, it can lead to other problems, including chronic jaw discomfort or even trouble chewing or speaking. Stopping thumb-sucking is one preventable way to prevent a malocclusion in your child!

When to Break the Habit

If your child doesn’t stop sucking their thumb or pacifier on their own by the age of five years old, it could be time to intervene [4]. Once the habit is broken, your child’s teeth may still return to normal, or they may need orthodontic intervention if the permanent teeth have been affected. Your dentist can let you know more about what to expect during your child’s checkup.

While thumb-sucking is normal and shouldn’t necessarily be discouraged, it can be a problem if your child doesn’t stop on their own past the age of five or six. You can schedule an appointment with your child-friendly dentist to talk about your child’s thumb-sucking habits and determine if they could be negatively impacting your child’s smile. Your dentist can also give you more pointers on helping your little one to stop if they are past the age that thumb-sucking is considered normal.

Be aware of the effect excessive or prolonged thumb-sucking can have on your child’s teeth as well as their jaw development! By doing so, you can support your child by making healthy choices to protect their oral health for years to come.


Your Child’s Thumb-Sucking May Be Causing Crooked Teeth
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Your Child’s Thumb-Sucking May Be Causing Crooked Teeth
Aldie Family & Cosmetic Dentistry