ZocdocAnswers"My child sucks his thumb, what are the chances that he will need braces?"

Question

"My child sucks his thumb, what are the chances that he will need braces?"

Everyone says I need to curb his thumb-sucking habit. However, I also sucked my thumb as a child and never needed braces. Is there really a connection between braces and sucking the thumb?

Answer

Along with favorite blankets and teddy bears, thumb-sucking can be very comforting to a child. It often provides a sense of security, contentment and relaxation which is why many children suck their thumbs as they fall asleep. It is more reliable for your child to find his thumb than a pacifier when needed. Sucking is an innate instance for a majority of children from a very young age; most even start inside the womb. Is this cause for worry? In most cases, no, but you should nonetheless discuss this with his dentist. Most children will grow out of it between age 2 to 4. That being said, it is important to continue paying attention to your child's habits, in case his behavior has the potential to affect his oral health. If your child is a passive thumb-sucker with his thumb gently resting inside his mouth, he is less likely to cause damage. If, on the other hand, he sucks aggressively by placing pressure on his mouth or teeth, such habit may cause problems with tooth alignment and growth which may lead to a need for orthodontic treatment in the future. If you suspect your child's thumb-sucking to cause any damage he has done on his bite, I would encourage you to be more proactive with it. Please bring him in for a visit with a dentist to help you assess the situation and advice on how to get rid of this detrimental habit.

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

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