Orthodontist Questions Crooked Teeth

My daughter is 4 years old and is used to sucking her thumb. Will it cause her teeth to grow outwards?

I know thumb sucking in children can cause unstructured teeth. My daughter is currently 4 years old and we are trying hard to get her off thumb sucking. Will her permanent teeth grow outwards in the future?

10 Answers

Yes, prolonged thumb sucking can cause the upper teeth to protrude. It can also create an open bite where the front teeth don't touch among other things. Most children stop between the ages of 2 and 4. Positive reinforcement is usually the best way to help them stop. For example, instead of getting angry when they suck their thumb, praise them when they are not. Your dentist can encourage your child to stop and give some tips like putting a band-aid on the thumb as a reminder. As a child gets older and they continue, consult with an orthodontist as a habit appliance may be needed.
It's very likely, but not 100%. Depends on the severity of the habit. I would try using some Mavala nail polish to see if it helps with the habit (over-the-counter and/or on Amazon). Otherwise you'll want to plan on seeing your local orthodontist before Age 7 for an orthodontic screening and possible habit appliance therapy.
The biggest problem with thumb sucking is not the unsightly teeth, but the strong possibility that the bone which holds the teeth will be modified to the point that the skeletal structure is malformed. This frequently happens, and then the skeleton of the face which holds the teeth is distorted to the point that the teeth, being held by the skeleton, require extreme measures to be aligned. Additionally, frequently, the thumb habit will lead to a mouth breathing habit that will persist for years, if not for life, and create what is called open bite. An open bite can be fixed orthodontically, but most of the time will result after treatment with a relapse either partial, the most probable result, or fully.
So, bottom line, the thumb needs to be out of there asap.
Thank you for the question.

As long as the habit stops before the permanent teeth erupt, the permanent teeth should not come in flared. However, there are some skeletal (genetic) growth patterns that the front teeth erupt into the mouth more flared than ideal. My recommendation is to try to stop the habit before the adult teeth begin to erupt. Prior to that age, stopping a finger habit is very difficult based on patient maturity.

Michael J. Maslowski, DDS, MS
I would highly recommend seeing an orthodontist or a pediatric dentist. They have lots of ways (and appliances) that can encourage her to discontinue her habit.
Research shows that thumb sucking after the age of four or five can change the shape of a persons jaws in a way that can lead to improper positioning of the teeth. If you are worried their sucking may be hurting her teeth don't hesitate to ask your dentist or visit an orthodontist who can evaluate your daughter. Most orthodontists are happy to offer a complimentary evaluation free of charge. Thumb sucking isn't always a concern but it is more likely to cause a problem if a child sucks vigorously, as opposed to passively resting the thumb in his or her mouth. Aggressive thumb sucking can even cause problems in baby teeth. If you're concerned about the effect of thumb sucking on your daughter's teeth, check with an orthodontist or the dentist. For some childern, a chat with a doctor about why it's important to stop thumb sucking is more effective than a talk with mom or dad and if all else fails the orthodontist might recommend a special mouth guard or other dental appliance that interferes with sucking.

Yes, break the habit before 6 yrs old.
Yes, the habit may make the teeth protrude and the upper jaw too narrow. It depends on duration and frequency. Age four is the right age to begin treating the problem. She should have an initial examination by an orthodontist. There are a number of strategies to help her give up the habit.
Finger habits can cause teeth to grow in a more forward position, but more importantly it can negatively influence how the upper jaw grows and develops. If the habit continues into adolescence and adulthood, then the bones may be permanently affected depending on several factors (timing, duration of the habit, the amount of force applied, etc.). I would work with your primary care dentist or Pediatric Dentist to help your daughter begin reducing and eliminating the habit. Hope this helps....Dr.B.
Yes thumb sucking habit can have detrimental effect on teeth as well as jaw. I would highly recommend you to have consultation with your orthodontist.