Thumb Sucking


Dental professionals will observe abnormal changes in the shape of the jaw & position of teeth from as early as 2-3years of age, due to constant pressures from thumb or finger sucking on the developing jaws.

Approximately 80% of children who continue the habit beyond their early years often develop an Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder.

When a finger or thumb is frequently inside the mouth, it takes up the space where the teeth, tongue, lips, and jaw are normally positioned.
 This prevents them from functioning correctly and working in harmony.

Mouth Matters Orofacial Myology and Thumb Sucking Therapy baby sucking thumbShaping the jaw correctly into a “U” shape during the growth and development years is largely the role of the tongue.

However, with a thumb or finger sucking habit, the tongue is forced into a low resting position in the mouth, often underneath the finger or thumb.

In this position, the tongue cannot have a positive influence in establishing the correct shape of the jaw.
 This can in turn affect the position of the teeth within the jaw, and problems with crowding and malocclusion (incorrect bite) follow.

Interestingly, 80% of the nasal cavity is made up of the top jaw, therefore these habits can create mis-shapen & restricted nasal cavities, adversely affecting a child’s breathing.

It is important to discourage any thumb or finger sucking beyond the age of 2 years. This can be particularly challenging if there is a “trigger” such as a blanket, toy or a teddy, which can be difficult to remove without a negative response.

Mouth Matters Orofacial Myology and Thumb Sucking Therapy boy sucking thumb
Some children will stop the habit on their own, however others may need professional help & guidance. A qualified Orofacial Myologist is specifically trained to assist children in correcting their habit through a behaviour modification & positive reinforcement program.

The program can be implemented for other non-nutritive habits such as nail biting, pen/pencil chewing, clothes/toy chewing etc.  It is presented in a fun, positive and non-judgmental way that encourages, supports and empowers the child, using supportive reinforcement techniques & special “reminders” to successfully eliminate their habit.

pdficonFact Sheet – Thumb and Finger Sucking