What oral problems can be caused by a thumb sucking habit?

Thumb sucking during early childhood is a common behaviour in child development. However, it can negatively affect your child’s oral health if they continue to suck their thumb after five years.

The nature and severity of the problems caused by a prolonged thumb sucking habit can vary depending on the intensity, duration and frequency of the sucking. If you think your child is sucking their thumb too much for their age, read the following carefully.

How are oral problems caused by thumb sucking?

The main cause of oral problems related to constant thumb sucking is the abnormal development of the jaws that it can provoke. When the child sucks their thumb, the tongue moves too low, which hinders the proper balance of the mouth’s muscular forces.

Muscle imbalance in the oral region usually leads to underdevelopment of the jaws and poor positioning of the teeth. If the imbalance is not corrected early enough, more serious oral problems may develop, which may require orthognathic surgery.

Thumb sucking habit: consequences worth considering

Underdeveloped jaws caused by prolonged thumb sucking can lead to a number of problems of varying degrees of intensity. The most noticeable is the misalignment of the upper teeth, which gives the child a distinctive appearance that is often known as “rabbit teeth”. Jaw alignment can also be affected, which can lead to long-term pronunciation, chewing, or even breathing difficulties.

Prolonged thumb sucking can also cause the palate to sink, which can later result in new teeth coming in late, or even missing teeth.

Your child may not develop any of these problems. However, these are defects that develop slowly over time and are not immediately visible. We therefore recommend consulting a specialist if your child continues to suck their thumb after five years; they will be able to determine if pediatric maxillofacial surgery is required.

Does your child have oral problems due to a prolonged thumb sucking habit? Visit us at our offices

If your child is developing a jaw, upper teeth or palate deformity, it is important to act quickly: this will avoid more extensive and expensive care during adolescence. In addition, early treatment reduces the chance of developing speech or breathing problems.

At the MFML Clinic, Dr. Anne-Frédérique Chouinard is in charge of pediatric care. She has a specialization in paediatric maxillofacial surgery and is an expert in the field of facial deformities and orthognathic surgery for children.

We care about your family’s health and peace of mind: that’s why we are committed to providing you with comfortable care and quality follow-up. Contact us now to book an appointment or for any questions regarding your toddler’s maxillofacial health.

Contact us

We are not here yet. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.