Thumb sucking is a common habit among children, but if it persists beyond a certain age, it can cause dental problems such as misalignment of teeth and an overbite. Most children stop sucking their thumb by age 5. If they continue beyond that, we generally recommend starting with positive reinforcement and reminders. If that does not work, dental appliances for thumb sucking can be used to discourage the habit and promote proper dental development.
This photo above was taken of an eight year old child who had been sucking her thumb since birth. Notice the “open bite” which means that when she is biting down, her front teeth are not contacting. The thumb sucking had changed the position of the teeth and the shape of the jaws.
The child was treated with a habit breaker appliance, also known as a “palatal crib.” These appliances are glued to the back molars and usually stop the habit within a few days. They are made by a dental lab to custom fit your child’s mouth and bite. Once the habit is resolved, the teeth can return to a more typical position.