• By 1300SMILES Densits
  • March 23, 2022

Dummies are often lifelines when it comes to long, tear-filled nights with your little one. With the soothing, suckling motion that comes naturally to babies, it’s not surprising that some also go for their thumbs or fingers to settle.

Despite the reprieve dummy and thumb sucking may bring, you may also be worried if this habit could hurt your child’s mouth and teeth.

Can dummy and thumb sucking damage my child’s teeth?

Dummy and thumb sucking can indeed place a certain amount of stress on your child’s gums and baby teeth. Though, there is a lower risk of damage caused by these habits if your child stops before their permanent teeth come through. Permanent teeth often start appearing from about the age of six.

Before this point, your child’s mouth may repair naturally.

What happens if my child still sucks their thumb with adult teeth?

When your child’s permanent teeth erupt, thumb and dummy sucking can place pressure on the permanent teeth and force these teeth – and your child’s jaw – out of proper alignment. Your child will often need to see a specialist dentist – an orthodontist – for correction when this occurs.

Thumb sucking can also narrow the roof of your child’s mouth; this can be a problem, as a narrower palate can mean the top molars (the back teeth) sit inside the bottom molars. This alignment is known as a crossbite.

Depending on how much pressure your child places on their front teeth, thumb sucking can also cause their front teeth to pull forward. Such alignment is called an open bite. This open bite may increase the chance of your child damaging their teeth if they fall over, as their teeth are often sticking out prominently.

Prolonged thumb and dummy sucking may also lead to:

  • delayed speech development
  • mouth breathing
  • tooth decay (if you’re placing their dummy in honey and jam).

When should I stop my child from dummy and thumb sucking?

You might consider weaning your child from their dummy during their early toddler years. However, this age range will vary, depending on your comfort level and your child’s needs.

Regarding thumb sucking, your child could lose interest between two to four years old. However, if your little one is still dummy and thumb sucking by the time they’re four, you might consider setting small goals to help them reduce this habit.

How do I stop my child from dummy and thumb sucking?

There’s no right answer for every parent and child. However, it can be useful to give your child opportunities to stop using their dummy earlier than later. Increased attachment to these soothing strategies can make it harder for your child to stop.

To help ease the habit, you may try limiting dummy use to near sleep times or at night.

It’s also helpful to encourage your child with praise when you see them not using their dummy or sucking their thumb. Some children may use these methods secretly if you always correct or reprimand them.

To help encourage your little one, you may consider a sticker-reward system.

Overall, avoid taking away your child’s dummy suddenly. If your child hasn’t shown an interest in thumb sucking at this point, they may turn to it in the sudden absence of their beloved dummy.

Book an appointment to protect your child’s teeth today

Book to see a 1300SMILES dentist near you today and take the first important step in safeguarding your child’s teeth for years to come.

During your child’s appointment, you can discuss any questions or concerns you may have, including these soothing habits.

Beyond advising you on the best steps forward, our gentle dentists will also ensure your little one’s gums and teeth are healthy.