Thumb sucking can impact your child’s dental health

Thumb sucking is a common habit among children, and while it may seem harmless, it can have detrimental effects on their dental health. Thumb sucking is a natural reflex for babies, but if the habit continues past the age of four, it can cause problems with the growth and development of their teeth and jaws leading to the need for braces or Invisalign. In this blog, we will explore the ways in which thumb sucking can impact your child’s dental health.

One of the most significant dental problems associated with thumb sucking is the misalignment of teeth, also known as malocclusion. When children suck their thumbs for extended periods, it can push their teeth out of alignment, causing overbites, underbites, and crossbites. Malocclusion can affect the way children eat, speak, and even breathe, which can lead to further health problems down the line. This will likely mean the children may need corrective treatment such as Invisalign, traditional braces or specialist orthodontic care.

Another dental problem associated with thumb sucking is the development of an open bite. This occurs when the front teeth do not meet, leaving a gap between the upper and lower teeth. An open bite can cause problems with speech and can make it difficult for children to chew their food properly.

Thumb sucking can also lead to changes in the shape of the palate, which is the roof of the mouth. Prolonged thumb sucking can cause the palate to become narrower and more arched, leading to a condition known as a high palate. A high palate can cause problems with breathing, speech, and even swallowing.

In addition to dental problems, thumb sucking can also lead to the spread of bacteria and viruses, which can cause infections in the mouth and throat. Children who suck their thumbs often have more germs in their mouths than those who do not, which can lead to a higher risk of dental decay and gum disease.

So, what can be done to prevent the negative effects of thumb sucking on your child’s dental health? The British Orthodontic Society recommends that parents discourage thumb sucking by using positive praise when their child refrains from sucking their thumb, encourage them by using visual aids like charts and stickers. Covering the thumb or hand with a bandage or plaster, or even a bitter nail polish on the nails can also discourage the thumb sucking. You could also provide alternative comfort items, such as a soft blanket or stuffed animal, to help ease anxiety and stress. Try not to discipline the child if they continue, it may take time as it is a learned behaviour.

In severe cases, your local dentist in London or across the UK may recommend orthodontic treatment to correct any dental problems caused by thumb sucking.


In conclusion, thumb sucking may seem like a harmless habit, but it can have significant effects on your child’s dental health. It is essential to encourage your child to stop sucking their thumb at an early age to prevent problems with teeth and jaw development. By taking a proactive approach to your child’s dental health, you can help them develop healthy habits that will last a lifetime. Do you require advice from an orthodontic specialist in London or a local dentist? Contact Dental Care Centre today for more information.