Finger or Thumb Sucking

Few parents realize how malleable the facial bones of a six year old child are and how quickly things like ‘leaving the mouth open’ or ‘sucking the thumb’ can spoil a child’s appearance for ever.

Bottle, pacifier and finger sucking put backward forces on the jaws during one of the most important periods of rapid forward growth.

Thumb sucking together with other finger, dummy and blanket sucking habits will, if severe enough distort the growth of the face and teeth. It is very important that babies and young children are discouraged at every opportunity as it can cause severe damage to both the face and teeth (see below). Don’t accept it as a passing phase, be gentle but firm.

The sucking habits such as fingers and dummies (pacifiers) are strongly associated with crooked teeth and/or jaws (malocclusion). (Acta Odontologica Scandinavica -1993)

Research shows children breastfed about 1 year rarely develop dummy or finger sucking habits. (Swedish Dental Journal – 1998)

If thumb sucking persists after the primary teeth have erupted, it can change the growth patterns of the jaw, and cause significant misalignment of the teeth.

If this habit is left unchecked, it will cause instability of any future orthodontic treatment and make a good orthodontic result impossible.




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