Thumb Sucking & Orthodontics

Thumb sucking is a common habit among babies, toddlers, and even school-age children. While it offers comfort and often helps your child fall asleep, thumb sucking can have a detrimental effect on oral health and development over time. The pressures placed on the teeth, palate, and developing jaw by the tongue and suction impact how they grow. Tooth position is also impacted if thumb sucking continues into the preschool years or beyond.

Oral Appliances for Thumb Sucking

There is a range of oral appliances that can be used to stop thumb sucking. The most effective is often the “palatal thumb crib” that is placed on the upper palate. A thumb crib is designed to discourage thumb sucking by making it impossible for the child to use suction to create a seal between the thumb and the palate or back of the teeth. The force of this suction is a key factor in the impact that thumb sucking can have on the bite. Without the ability to create this suction, most children lose interest in trying to suck their thumb over time.

We try to make this a fun and rewarding experience for your child. A palatal thumb crib can be customized with fun colors and designs chosen by the patient. Combined with positive rewards for breaking the habit, a thumb crib has proven to be one of the best means of stopping thumb sucking in children.

Thumb Sucking & Phase One Braces

Even with the successful use of a palatal thumb crib, thumb sucking can still impact your child’s oral development if it has been a habit since infancy. A key factor in the potential impact of thumb sucking is the force with which your child sucks their thumb or even their fingers. While some will simply rest the thumb in the mouth, for the most part, children who vigorously create a strong suction are more likely to experience oral development concerns related to the bite.

Common orthodontic concerns created by thumb sucking can include:

  • Open bite
  • Overbite
  • Jaw and facial abnormalities
  • Development of a lisp

The continual impact of thumb sucking affects how the palate develops and tooth position over time. For many children, phase one braces are the best solution to address oral development concerns. Treating these developing bite issues early can often save money in the long run. Phase one braces for young children are designed to help the permanent teeth erupt in the right position and to minimize bite problems.