Orthodontist Questions Crooked Teeth

Can thumbsucking cause changes in the shape of the teeth?

My daughter is 6 years old and still sucks her thumb. I am worried that this habit will cause her teeth shape to change. Can this happen?

16 Answers

Hello, this is a great question. Thumb sucking can cause significant changes to the developing teeth and bite. The habit can cause the teeth to develop an open bite. This is when a patient bites down and touches only the back teeth. Patients with an open bite will not be able to touch the front teeth together. In addition, patients with thumb sucking habits will
have an increased overjet commonly called "bucked teeth." This occurs because the thumb acts to push the upper front teeth forward and the lower front teeth back toward the tongue. Finally, patients with a strong thumb habit will suck the cheeks in which can lead to a narrow upper jaw. The longer the thumb habit persists, the higher the risk of these problems developing. I would recommend you work with your daughter to remind her to stop this habit. Thumb paint solutions such as Mavala or Thumb Stop can serve as a reminder to not put the tongue in the mouth. There are thumb guards which go over the thumb which can also help some children to stop this habit. Rewards charts are a great way to encourage positive
reinforcement if she can fall asleep without her thumb going in the mouth. Trying at home remedies to see if you can get this to stop is a good first step. If you cannot get it to stop at home soon, I would suggest you review this with your dentist, a pediatric dentist, or an orthodontist. Many times they can provide you with things to try to help stop the habit and let you know if any tooth or jaw problems are developing. If simple remedies fail, you can have custom appliances made to block the thumb from shifting the teeth or changing the jaw growth. You are addressing this at a great time since age 6 is when many of the permanent teeth erupt. Please don't hesitate to reach out to a dental professional if you feel you need more help - we love to help avoid problems from developing in the first place.
I wish you the best of luck with your daughter!


Yes, for sure, thumb sucking causes problems not only for the shape of the teeth, but also deforms the shape of the upper and lower jaws. See an orthodontist who can help your child stop this habit. In the field of sleep medicine, it is thought children do this due to breathing issues. Does you child snore? Mouth breathe? Or gasp for breath at night (i.e., stop breathing for a while)? Get it checked, it is IMPORTANT.
Thumb sucking can cause a change in tooth positions depending on how they suck and how much time they do it. Most often upper front teeth move up or forward, and sometimes the lower front teeth are moved back. Also, it could cause the back teeth to be constricted, and could affect the palate as well. It is always a good idea to try to end them sucking when adult teeth are growing in.
To expound a bit more, it does not change the shape of the teeth. It can change the shape of the arches (the part of each jaw that holds the teeth), the shape of the jaw, the position and alignment of the teeth, and the bite (how the teeth fit together).

You can bet it will. We prefer that habit to be broken before age 5 if possible, but pacifiers, sippy cups and blankets can augment the problem as well as the development of improper tongue function.
Sucking urges can be linked to lack of adequate beast feeding and premature birth. Interesting, some adults still such their thumb. This problem may need help from other professional sources to correct.
Absolutely. Not only can the teeth be pushed out of line but the shape of the palate can be distorted. At age 6 intervention is indicated. If you have already tried to get your child to stop and have been unsuccessful it is a good idea to see an orthodontist. An appliance can be made that discourages thumb sucking. It usually works very quickly.
Thumb sucking can definitely change the shape of the palate and the alignment of the teeth. It should not change the shape of the individual teeth. I would recommend an orthodontic screening to evaluate your daughter's airway. We commonly find kids with thumb sucking habits have large adenoids/tonsils, deviated septums and/oor allergies which can contribute to this habit.
You are right to be concerned! Thumb sucking can change the shape of a person’ mouth and effect the bite.
While thumb sucking is unlikely to change the "shape" of the teeth, it can make the teeth appear worse by changing their position in the mouth. If she is 6, that is really a problem she needs to break.

If I were you, I would find a Board Certified Orthodontist in your area and call to see if they offer a free consultation. These consultations are usually pretty quick and may involve some complimentary photos and x-rays as well as an office tour to let you get a feel for the competence and friendliness of the orthodontist and their staff.

This website will allow you to find a Board Certified Orthodontist.

Thumbsucking cannot change the shape of the actual teeth, but it can DEFINITELY change the shape of the dental arches! It can cause the maxilla (upper jaw) to narrow/constrict...it can cause the upper incisors to protrude (tip) forward...and can cause the lower teeth to move lingually (toward the tongue).
Studies have not shown to change the "shape of the teeth" but this habit does alter the occlusion to cause an "anterior open bite". This is one of the hardest occlusions to treat orthodontically. You would want to see an orthodontist who can help her and possibly use some appliances to encourage her to stop this habit as soon as possible.
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 your child is under the age of four, thumb sucking doesn’t usually present a problem. If they are over age three and you are worried their sucking may be hurting their teeth don't hesitate to ask your dentist or visit an orthodontist who can evaluate your child's teeth. Most orthodontists are happy to offer a complimentary evaluation free of charge.
Thumb sucking can change the shape of the palate, narrowing it and protruding the front teeth on top. The lowet teeth will get seemingly pushed down resulting in an anterior open bite. Stopping this At the age of two or three will usually result in self correction. Older than this and the more hours done, the more they will need help.
Most definitely.
You should go and see an orthodontist.
If you wait too long it will get worse.
Thumb sucking will not change the shape of the teeth, but can and will cause a giant change in the growth of the jaws. Once the jaws have been changed from their normal growth and development, other associated habits such as tongue thrust, and mouth breathing can be added to the problem, and change the shape of the entire face . Unless corrected early, for life.
Yes, a thumb-sucking habit will cause flaring of upper incisors and tetrocline lower incisors and narrow the palatial vault. Stop the habit with appliance in upper jaw, which stops thumb sealing against the palate.