Thumb Sucking & Braces

June 7, 2019

Will Thumb Sucking Cause My Child To Need Braces?

At Utah Orthodontic Care, we strive to help patients throughout the greater Salt Lake City area achieve beautiful, healthy smiles through affordable orthodontic treatment. But in addition to offering affordable care, we strive to be a resource for our patients to educate themselves on orthodontic and dental health. While the vast majority of orthodontic conditions are genetic and can only be treated through braces or ClearCorrect, some orthodontic problems can have other causes like childhood habits. And sometimes, childhood thumb sucking can be a cause for orthodontic malocclusions.

How Thumb Sucking Affects the Teeth

Let’s be clear: thumb sucking is a natural human instinct, and in babies, there’s nothing wrong with it. However, if thumb sucking continues past the age of four, it can interfere with orthodontic development and lead to a condition called openbite.

When a child continues sucking their thumb or finger past age four, the prolonged sucking places pressure on the upper and lower front teeth, pushing them to slant out from the mouth. If this goes on long enough, it can cause the teeth to slant forward so much that they fail to overlap when the mouth is closed, sometimes leaving a gap – this is openbite. Openbite can cause a range of problems including impaired speech and difficulty chewing, and it will require orthodontic treatment through braces.

Most children stop sucking their thumb around age 3 without prompting, so this is rarely an issue. If you do notice your child continuing with thumb sucking behavior past age 3 or 4, there are a number of tactics you can use to help break the behavior ranging from casually explaining the problem to unpleasant-tasting nail polish. But if prolonged thumb sucking continues to be a problem, we can help.

Contact Your Utah Orthodontic Provider

If you’re having trouble getting your child to stop sucking on their thumb, don’t worry. All of our orthodontic providers can work with you to implement simple, convenient, and effective orthodontic treatments to help break the thumb sucking habit without difficulty or tears. Feel free to contact us to learn more about the link between thumb sucking and orthodontic treatment, or if you’d like to see how we can help, just request a free consultation with us online. We look forward to hearing from you, and we’re excited to help your child develop a healthy, beautiful smile!