Bank Cottage Dental 14 Castle Street, Thornbury, Bristol, BS35 1HB
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Thumb Finger Sucking

Although it is common and considered normal for babies and children to suck their thumbs, fingers (digits) or dummies, it can result in dental problems if it continues for too long.

Children tend to stop dummy sucking sooner than finger sucking. If your child insists on using a dummy, orthodontic dummies are available. They are flatter than traditionally shaped dummies and are believed to have less effect on the development of erupting baby teeth.

If your child is pre-school age or younger, these habits typically stop before the permanent teeth erupt and you don’t need to worry about any lasting effects.  However, if your child begins to develop speech or dental problems, encourage and support your child to stop this habit.

If children are allowed to continue their sucking habit after the permanent teeth begin to erupt, beyond the age of 5-6 years old, then this may result in some of the following dental effects:

  • Reduction in the overlap of front teeth (overbite) and failure for these front teeth to come together (anterior openbite).
  • Pushing forward of the upper front teeth and pushing back of lower front teeth.
  • Narrowing of the upper arch (maxilla) affecting the position of the upper permanent back teeth erupting, which can affect the fit of the back teeth (formation of crossbite), and risk of developing a shift in the jaw to accommodate this interference in the bite (displacement).
  • Possible lisp as tongue adapts to change in position of teeth and jaws.

The more intense and prolonged the habit, the more significant the effects and the harder it is potentially to correct orthodontically when older.

At Bank Cottage, our specialist orthodontist can assess whether any potential dental or orthodontic problems are developing as a result of these habits, and offer advice and support to you and your child to help stop this habit. Once this habit has stopped, there should be some spontaneous improvement of the dental problems.  However, in some cases, further orthodontic treatment is required, and your specialist orthodontist can advise on what these options may be.

We are committed to your child’s oral health and our team of dedicated healthcare professionals can help your child achieve a beautiful smile. Please call our practice on 01454 412053 if you are concerned about your child’s thumb or finger sucking habit.

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