How Thumb Sucking Affects A Child’s Oral Health?


Seeing infants nibbling or sucking on their thumbs is the cutest sight. It is even more adorable when these little munchkins fall asleep while sucking on their thumbs. Many child experts also suggest that thumbsucking is the most normal thing for a baby. It soothes them and calms them when they are small. However, what is considered normal during infancy can also affect them when they are older. Hence, weaning them off from this habit is also crucial, no matter how adorable they seem while doing it.

As a result, we’ve created this piece of writing to inform you of the thumb sucking damage to your child’s oral health. But don’t worry, dear parents; we’ll also go through some good strategies to help your youngster quit the habit.

When Is Thumb sucking Normal Or Abnormal And Its Effects 

For infants and kids up to 3 years old, thumb sucking is as normal as breathing air. After this age, they generally wean off by themselves from thumb-sucking. However, in some kids, this habit persists. While pediatric dentists suggest that damage to teeth from thumbsucking is not very significant if done in subtle duration. However, when the time increases, and you see them with their thumb stuck in their mouth all day, it becomes a problem. Moreover, there could be damage to teeth from thumbsucking. Here is how you identify their problematic thumbsucking behavior:

  • Persistent Thumbsucking Habit: constant thumbsucking habit is when your kid sucks the thumb persistently and continuously for more than 3-4 hours. 
  • Intensive Thumbsucking Habit: Intensive thumbsucking habit is when your kid never actually takes the thumb out of your mouth. Even if you gently pull the thumb out, they would whine, cry, and instantly try to put it back in the mouth. In such cases putting pacifiers may be an alternate way. However, it will still interfere with your kid’s dental aspects. 

Here’s how the thumbsucking patterns mentioned abovecan adversely affect your kid’s oral health:

  • When they suck on their thumb, there could be damage to teeth from thumbsucking as it affects their teething process. Continuous thumbsucking causes the thumb to be in the way of the incoming teeth. As a result, it disturbs the position of the teeth during eruption. It could also interfere with the way they eat in the future as the teeth alignment gets disturbed.
  • Prolonged intensive thumb sucking can also cause an overbite appearance on the lips. Furthermore, it can give rise to protruded teeth which can wound the lips due to constant contact between the two.
  • Thumb sucking damage is also apparent in dental and gastrointestinal health. A child, after all, is a curious creature that will hold anything and everything. As a result, their thumb will come into contact with and carry a variety of microorganisms. This has the potential to either boost or degrade their immunity. It can also lead to digestive problems and a persistent unpleasant stomach.
  • Many experts also suggest that thumbsucking for prolonged periods can also destroy the bone structure of their jaws. Hence it is advisable not to encourage the thumb-sucking habit.

Tips To Help Your Kids Break Out Of The Habit Of Thumb sucking

As parents, we want the best for our children, even if that means making them weep because they can’t suck their thumbs for the time being. Don’t worry; we’ve got some tried-and-tested techniques to wean off your child from thumb sucking habit;

  • Get Them Talking

If you want to prevent damage to teeth from thumb sucking in your child, the most gentle way is to open a dialogue with them. You can sit down and talk to them about what prompts them to suck their thumbs in the first place. Ask them how they feel when they do it. Asking these things can help you find alternatives to encourage your kids to prevent thumb sucking. For instance, if they communicate how soothing it feels to suck their thumb, you can find other ways to make them feel the same.

  • Encouraging Them Via Cartoons And Animations

There are various animated videos and famous cartoon characters on the internet and youtube that can help you with thumbsucking weaning. Sit with your kids and watch them together. Many experts suggest that cartoons are a very effective way for kids to learn new things. Sometimes they even idolize the cartoons and try to get into their roles. Hence, cartoons can be a significant step ahead in preventing damage to teeth from thumbsucking and stopping it altogether.

  • Rewarding And Positive Reinforcement

Rewarding them for not sucking their thumb is also great. You can bring their favorite snacks or toffees and hide them in a place they never find. Strike a deal about getting rewarded if they keep their thumbs out of their mouth for a particular duration. Remember to start with mild durations and then encourage them to do it for prolonged hours. As you notice, there will be a time when they will not need a thumb or a reward for keeping their thumbs in their pockets or their mouths.

  • Applying Little Pepper Or Bitter Tasting Nail Polish On Fingers 

This is a rather harsh and aggressive way to stop the damage to teeth from thumbsucking. Many experts would not recommend it as it seems unfair to do so. However, this could be a last resort and, most of the time, work to help your kid out of thumb-sucking damage. They will surely learn one thing as they taste the bitter taste of nail paint or slight pepper powder. It is not to put their thumbs up ever again. Yet again, it is the last resort and best not to employ for getting your child to leave thumb-sucking ones and for all.


This was all about the damage to teeth from thumbsucking and ways to prevent it. If you have a toddler at home, we understand you have the best intentions for their growth. Moreover, apart from avoiding thumb sucking, you should also take more dental and oral health measures. You can opt for tooth scaling and dental braces for the best growth of your teeth.


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