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Can Thumb-Sucking Cause Children to Need Braces?

Child OrthodonticsIt’s perfectly normal for infants and toddlers to suck their thumb. In many cases, this habit gradually fades away by the time they are in kindergarten, or even sooner. However, children who suck their thumb for an extended period of time, as well as those who suck their thumbs too aggressively, may eventually have orthodontic conditions that will need braces or another type of orthodontic treatment to correct.

Vigorous thumb-sucking over long periods of time can cause structural changes in the jaw and affect teeth alignment. When pressure is placed on the teeth, bone, and soft oral tissues during early childhood development, it can ultimately create teeth alignment issues, bite irregularities, and/or other orthodontic concerns later in life. Extended periods of thumb-sucking may also contribute to the development of protruding front teeth (often referred to as “buck teeth”) and the inability of the upper and lower jaws to properly fit together when closed. In addition to functional oral problems, these concerns can have an effect on one’s facial appearance.  

Although many children stop sucking their thumbs by the age of four, others may find the habit difficult to break. Once the permanent teeth start to erupt, it is imperative that children do not continue to suck their thumbs. Gentle and positive reinforcement at home can often go a long way towards weaning them off the habit. Our orthodontist can also examine your child and provide solutions that can help them stop, and he can monitor the development of their teeth and jaws as they get older.

If you have questions about orthodontic conditions and treatment options for children, please don’t hesitate to contact Cuozzo Orthodontic Specialists today.

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