Prolonged thumbsucking


Prolonged thumb sucking can have a number of adverse consequences for development of the jawbones and teeth, altering the child’s facial aesthetic harmony.

It also effects functions such as swallowing, diction, etc.

The tendency to suck one’s thumb is physiological and occurs prior to birth.

Consequences of thumb sucking

Thumb sucking is also essential for the development of small children. This said, prolonged sucking of the thumb, the dummy or the teat of their drinking bottle is counterproductive to correct dental evolution.}

Persistent sucking causes an extension of what is known as infant swallowing: when the tongue sits in the wrong position, too low in the mouth, while eating or swallowing saliva (an average of 2000 times a day). When sucking, the thumb is placed at the front of the mouth, between the upper and lower teeth, pushing the superior incisors forward and the inferior incisors backwards. This prevents the tongue from lifting to rest on the palate and exercise the necessary lateral pression to guarantee width development of the upper jawbone.

This means that the upper jawbone, and therefore the palate, do not achieve full development, but remain narrower than normal.

Niño chupándose el dedo

Los dientes superiores se encuentran proyectados hacia adelante y los dientes inferiores hacia atrás, por la acción constante del pulgar o el chupete. Así queda una mordida abierta, es decir, los dientes anteriores de arriba y abajo no contactan. El labio inferior tiende a colocarse entre las dos arcadas dentales, lo que confiere al niño una fisonomía particular (dientes de conejo).

The upper teeth stick outwards and the bottom teeth inwards due to the constant action of sucking the thumb or the dummy. This means that the child is left with an open bite, i.e., when the upper and lower teeth don’t meet. The lower lip tends to slip between the two dental arches, giving the child a rather unusual appearance (buck teeth).

As we can see, prolonged suction causes an imbalance in muscular strength.

It is precisely the balance of muscular strength in the area around the mouth (lips and tongue) which enables balanced development of the jawbone and good position of the teeth.

Thumb sucking and orthodontics


Treatment of these problems requires the interruption of thumb sucking and lingual re-education. Also included in this treatment is the use of an apparatus to prevent the child from sucking. If your child has sucked their thumbs until a late age, or still sucks it, we can help you to change the habit and decide whether orthodontic treatment is necessary.

Today we apply orthodontic treatments at an earlier age using specific braces, simple to use and only remaining in place for a short time. This often means that we can avoid more bothersome treatment in adolescent age. It not all children need early intervention.

When to start treating the problem

El control ortodóncico es tanto más necesario cuanto que el niño se haya chupado el dedo más allá de los 5 años. En caso de mala posición de los dientes, se pueden proponer tratamientos simples y eficaces desde los 6 años. Incluso si su hijo ha abandonado el pulgar rápidamente, se aconseja realizar una primera consulta ortodóncica antes de las 6 años.

No todos los niños que se chupan el pulgar tienen por qué tener problemas ortodóncicos. Hay a menudo un conjunto de factores que coexisten (duración de la succión, tonicidad muscular). Si el niño continúa chupándose el pulgar aún llevando aparato, no duden en pedir opinión sobre la continuidad suspensión del tratamiento.

Orthodontic control is more often required when the child has sucked their thumb after the age of 5 years. In the case of wrongly positioned teeth, simple and efficient treatment can be proposed from the age of 6 years. Even if your child stopped sucking their thumb rapidly, it is advisable for them to have a first orthodontic check-up before the age of 6 years.

Not all children who suck their thumbs suffer orthodontic problems. Often a series of factors co-exist (the length of time they have sucked their thumb, muscular tonicity). If the child continues to stuck their thumb with a brace on, don’t hesitate to ask us how to proceed with the treatment.