Thumb Sucking and Your Child’s Teeth


There’s likely not a child in Omaha who didn’t suck their thumb at one time or another growing up. Thumbsucking is a natural reflex for children. In fact, many babies have been found to suck their thumb inside their mother’s womb. The sucking reflex helps soothe babies, making them feel calm, secure and happy. However, excessive thumb-sucking can lead you to seek out braces from your Omaha orthodontist! At Pedodontics, our pediatric dentists will work with you and your child to make sure that any bad oral habits such as thumb sucking are stopped at a young age to avoid early treatment before any damage is done to your child’s oral health.

The Negative Effects Of Thumb Sucking

Although thumb sucking is a natural behavior and often helps put your child to sleep, the pediatric dentists at Pedodontics have seen thumb sucking initiate serious damage to their Omaha area patient’s oral health. As your baby grows, so does his or her jaw, mouth and teeth. When your baby sucks intensely on their thumb or fingers, they put pressure on the gums that can negatively affect the proper growth of the mouth and alignment of the teeth. Some thumb suckers will find that they develop an openbite, where a gap is left in the front upper and lower teeth because they don’t overlap when a child bites down. Not only can this ruin your child’s smile, but this malocclusion also makes it difficult to speak, chew and retain food. It can also cause other dental and orthodontic issues.

Tips For Stopping The Thumb Sucking Habit

Thumb or finger sucking is very common and should not be an immediate concern for young children. Most children will stop sucking their thumb or fingers sometime around the age of two to four years old, or by the time the permanent front teeth get ready to come in. However, if your child continues thumb-sucking past the age of four or five, it’s important to begin measures to break the habit before it causes permanent damage to his or her oral health. Your Omaha pediatric dentists and orthodontists at Pedodontics have the best tips for stopping excessive thumb sucking.

  • Praise

Focus on praising and being positive when your child is NOT thumb sucking, instead of scolding your child when he or she engages in the thumb sucking habit.

  • Rewards

Give your child a reward in exchange for not sucking on his or her thumb. This can be anything they enjoy, from toys or food to a trip to the Omaha Zoo - let them choose!

  • Discussions

Sometimes the best thing to do is to just be open and honest with your child. Explain why thumb sucking is bad and how harmful it can be. Communication is key. If your child is older, ask him or her for input on the best way to stop.

  • Comfort

Many times your child will suck their thumbs when they feel insecure or are in need of comfort. Try to find out the cause of the stress and comfort your child, as needed. Also, if you notice that your child is more likely to thumb suck during a certain time, place, or scenario, try to avoid it.

  • Distraction

Thumb sucking is a hand-to-mouth habit so an effective way of keeping them from doing it is to keep their hands occupied with games or activities.

  • Pediatric Dentist Advice

If you’ve tried our other suggestions and your child still sucks his or her thumb, we recommend visiting our Omaha offices at Pedodontics, P.C. Our pediatric dentists will be able to help your child understand how necessary it is to kick this harmful habit. If needed, we can even use a special oral appliance, known as a tongue crib, that’s designed to break the thumb sucking habit in just a few short months.


Call The Best Omaha Pediatric Dentist & Orthodontist Today!

If you have any other questions about breaking a thumb sucking habit, please don’t hesitate to contact us and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. Our highly skilled and friendly doctors and staff are ready to welcome you and your child into the Pedodontics family. Contact us at our Omaha, NE, office today to schedule your first visit with our children’s dentist or orthodontist. We look forward to answering all of your pediatric dentistry questions and assisting you with meeting the needs of your child’s oral health. Call today!