Thumb Sucking

Thumb sucking is a common habit amongst children generally around the ages of 2-4. It usually goes away on its own, however if it goes on longer it can cause issues with the teeth and jaw.


Oral problems for your child associated with chronic thumb sucking can include; misaligned bite, palate issues, speech problems and an overbite or overjet. Thumb sucking generally does not become an issues until about 5 years of age but it can make it easier to address the issue before it becomes a problem. If it is stopped early enough, these issues can correct themselves. The misalignment of teeth or changes to the palate may require orthodontic treatment if the habit continues on for too long.


When the time comes to break the habit, here are a few ways you can help your child.

  • Address the underlying cause by determining when it is that your child is sucking their thumb
  • Replace their coping mechanism for stress with a healthy alternative, like holding a blanket, stuffed animal, or favourite toy.
  • Create a chart to track their behaviour with stickers and reward them when they reach a certain number of stickers.
  • Avoid situations that may increase your child’s stress, like shaming, criticizing, and admonishing them for thumb sucking.
  • Reinforce healthy behaviours like not sucking their thumb with rewards and praise.
  • Discourage the behaviour by putting a bandage on their thumb or covering their hand with a sock at night.
  • If your child is old enough, communicate to them how thumb sucking can negatively affect their oral health.
  • Help your child reduce or manage their discomfort and stress.


If you do observe changes to your childes bit or alignment, it is best to book an appointment with your dentist. They can screen for possible orthodontic issues related to thumb sucking and recommend early intervention that may prevent the need for longer-term treatment later.


If you think your child may need to visit a dentist to address the issue, call Pimpama City Dental Centre 5670 3777.