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Thumb & Finger Habit

Close-up of boy with thumb sucking, Thumb and finger sucking.

Babies are born with a natural sucking reflex. This reflex allows them to eat as well as comforts, soothes, and relaxes them. As adorable and natural as the thumb sucking reflex is, if it goes on too long, it can cause problems for your child’s teeth, jaws, and mouth.

Problems Caused by Thumb-Sucking

There are a number of oral issues caused by thumb and finger sucking, both for the health of your child as well as the aesthetics of his smile. Below are a few of the problems caused by a thumb-sucking habit:

  • Open Bite – An open bite prevents the front teeth from coming together when the mouth is closed. This will need to be fixed, not just for cosmetic reasons but also help with biting, speaking, and chewing. An open bite can be corrected through the use of orthodontic treatment.
  • Narrow Palate – The roof of the mouth is also known as the ‘palate.’ Because children still have pliable bones when their teeth are coming in, their palate may conform to the shape of a thumb sucker’s thumb. This can cause a high and narrow arch, which can lead to various dental problems.
  • Jaw Misalignment – Lastly, forceful enough thumb sucking can cause the jaws to actually shift out of alignment. Jaw surgery may be required to help correct a misaligned jaw.

Most children will stop sucking their thumbs before they’re old enough to go to school. However, if your child’s thumb-sucking habit persists, you may want to have an orthodontic evaluation here at Piedmont Pediatric Dentistry. Our child’s dental office is located here in Greensboro, North Carolina.