ZocdocAnswersCan thumb sucking damage teeth?

Question

Can thumb sucking damage teeth?

My daughter is two years old and she's been sucking her thumb since birth. I'm beginning to worry because I don't want this habit to affect how her teeth come in.

Answer

Thumb sucking is a very normal child behavior, though its important to discuss it with your child's pediatrician. Children do it because they find it comforting and soothing, especially in times of stress or when they are trying to quiet themselves, such as in preparation for going to sleep. For most children the age of your child, thumb sucking is unlikely to cause any permanent problems to the teeth. What's more, most children will stop sucking their thumbs by around 4 years of age with no harm done. If thumb sucking is persistent into later childhood, it can start to cause problems. Most often this occurs when the permanent teeth are starting to come in, which will not happen for a number of years yet! The reason that thumb sucking at this age can cause problems is that the pressure from the sucking action can change the shape of the roof of the mouth, leading to misalignment of the permanent adult teeth. For the moment, however, it is unlikely that your two year old's behavior is going to have any bad consequences for her teeth, but I would recommend mentioning the issue to your pediatrician at your next office visit. They will be able to provide you with additional advice.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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