Causes of Thumb Sucking and Permanent Damage to Children’s Teeth

August 7, 2017

Kids suck their teeth to calm and comfort them. Parents who don’t know that thumb sucking and permanent damage to children’s teeth go hand in hand may watch their children continue with this trait.

This habit normally begins when the child is still in the womb and gets perfected in the infancy stage. As the child grows, he or she may suck the thumb when scared, bored, tired, unwell or just trying to adjust to whatever challenges they face like falling asleep. Once children’s teeth start developing, thumb sucking may cause the roof of their mouth to alter. This, in turn, damages the development of the teeth. The intensity of the thumb sucking habit determines the damage to the teeth, gums, and jaws. The more vigorous the child sucks on their thumb the more severe the damage.

Most children seize sucking their thumbs from the age of two or when permanent teeth start forming. However, when they continue with the habit after permanent teeth have started forming, their teeth become crooked. This potentially creates either an overbite or an under bite. Thumb sucking and permanent damage to children’s teeth is a common phenomenon around the world. Luckily, braces or other orthodontic treatments which are potentially painful to children may be used to correct this.

Parents may help stop this thumb sucking by preempting thumb sucking with other activities. Once a parent has identified the time and places the child is most likely to suck their thumb, substitute activities may be used to distract the child from sucking their thumb. If the child sucks the thumb while sleeping, a parent may let the child sleep with their favorite toys to distract them. When the child sucks the thumb when frustrated, the parent can help the child in putting his or her feelings into words or engaging in fun activities.

Parents are urged to try and wait out the thumb sucking behavior their kids may develop. If the child persists in sucking the thumb, the key to him or her stopping is for the parent to find alternative activities to divert their attention. This is important because prolonged Thumb sucking and permanent damage to children’s teeth is an action and reaction, they can’t be separated.


Posted in Dental by Sophie Ruiz