Thumb Sucking and Habit Correction Clinic

Why do some children suck their thumbs?

Babies have natural rooting and sucking reflexes, which can cause them to put their thumbs or fingers into their mouths — sometimes even before birth. Because thumb sucking makes babies feel secure, some babies might eventually develop a habit when they're in need of soothing or going to sleep. Habits include thumb & finger sucking, dummy sucking, nail biting, clothes/toy chewing, pen chewing, and other non-nutritive sucking habits.

These habits can be a difficult for a child to break. Understand what you can do to help your child stop these habits.

Thumb sucking habits can leave parents at their wits end. After trying everything at home including nasty tasting coatings painted on the thumb and reward systems, parents are often told that a habit breaking appliance needs to be cemented into their child’s mouth. These dental “habit breakers” are torturous looking. This is suggested because dental professionals know the detrimental impact prolonged thumb-sucking or finger sucking can have on the developing mouth and speech.
Thumb sucking is a hard habit to break especially if it is prolonged and left up to chance. The habit is comforting to kids so the last thing they need is someone scolding them or putting on nasty nail polish.

When a thumb or finger is in the way – tongue placement is not optimal. The intensity of habits like these can shape bone (roof of the mouth often reflects this), and prevent eruption of adult teeth into the optimal position – or move teeth dramatically. When there is an open bite, as there is in this pre-treatment photo – the tongue can often be seen thrusting into the open space.

It is important that if the habit persists beyond the age of 7 that your child has an urgent orthodontic assessment. Any adverse growth of the jaws or facial bones caused by the digit habit, can be corrected between the ages of 7 and 9 whilst the bones are supple and pliable.
Therefore we advise every child who has sucked their thumbs or fingers to have an orthodontic assessment around the age of 7-8.

It is recommended by the International Association of Orofacial Myology that habit breaking devices NOT be cemented in the mouth- as these devices displace the tongue from it’s optimal resting position and encourage low resting tongue posture which can lead to a whole new set of issues for the child.

If nothing is working then Thumb sucking habit breaking therapy is very successful and offered at at Paradise Road Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy and Airway Clinic. Our PRDPMyo team have been trained in orofacial therapy and can assist in eliminating thumb and finger sucking habits – without the need for a dental appliance cemented. They make it fun and rewarding and make kids motivated to kick the habit. Give us a call or email us with your questions. Behaviour modification therapy often results in habit elimination in a few sessions. We are here to set your child up for success.


Would you like to visit our practice?
Make a booking today

Book Now