The Long Term Effects of Thumb Sucking –

The Long Term Effects of Thumb Sucking



Thumb sucking is a common habit for your child to have before they begin school. Approximately 90% of children between the ages of 2 and 4 suck their thumbs. Thumb sucking only starts to affect your child once they reach 5-6 years of age because that’s when their permanent teeth start to come in.

Usually, the reason why children tend to continue thumb sucking is out of habit due to hunger, boredom or stress. At this point, it’s important to try to stop the habit before it leads to any permanent damage to your child’s permanent teeth.

Some long term effects of thumb sucking beyond the age of 5-6 years include:

  • Teeth being pushed around, which might cause an overbite or an underbite to form
  • A lisp being formed because constant thumb sucking can affect the jaw bone positioning
  • Germs from your thumb and surrounding areas affecting your body
  • The roof of the mouth becoming altered or more sensitive

Approximately 30% of children in pre-school continue to suck their thumbs. Here are some helpful tips on how you can stop your child from sucking their thumbs at this point:

  1. Don’t nag or punish your child for sucking their thumbs as it may create stress and a reason to suck their thumbs more.
  2. Teach your child the reasons why they can’t continue to suck their thumbs. Explain to them the long term effects of such a habit and what that might entail.
  3. Eliminate sources of stress which could be the reason why your child sucks their thumbs.
  4. When your child sucks their thumb, distract them with a toy or a song.