Thumb Sucking Habit

What is the sucking habit?

This is when the child sucks a finger (usually the thumb) or a pacifier during the day and/or night.

How common are these habits?

Finger and pacifier sucking habits are among the most common habits in childhood. In general, this condition begins in 3 months old babies and is considered normal until 2 years old.

Children enjoy the habit. Prolonged thumb sucking is observed in one out of every 8 children. This condition is more common in girls than boys.

The pacifier sucking habit tends to pause before the age of 6.

If the habits continue after the age of 7, permanent tooth disorders may occur.

Why does my child have such a habit?

There are two reasons for this;

  • Such habits create a feeling of comfort and security in the child.

  • This is a learned behavior.

Babies have a natural urge to suck, from the period of feeding with a bottle or breastfeeding. Such habits cause this impulse to be stimulated and it becomes difficult to quit the habit over time.

Does the habit of thumb sucking always lead to the development of tooth-jaw problems?

No. Tooth and jaw disorders;

  • how often thumb sucking

  • How hard is your thumb sucked?

  • Until what age does the habit continue?

occur due to reasons such as

If the child is sucking his thumb for more than 6 hours a day, it is inevitable that dental disorders will occur.

How does the habit of sucking affect the teeth?

  • Since the habit of thumb sucking prevents the front teeth from erupting, it causes a vertical gap between the front teeth. This creates difficulty in biting food.

  • The upper front teeth become protruding forward.

  • Narrowing occurs in the upper jaw, which causes the posterior teeth to close incorrectly.

What can I do to stop my child’s habit?

It is not easy to stop a habit that the child enjoys. However, it would be a right start to make an effort not to make the habit during the day before the night.

Above all, the child must be willing to quit the habit.

You can try:

  • You can encourage and encourage the child to quit the habit. You can motivate the child by preparing daily charts and rewarding less repetitive habits with each passing day.

  • Talk to him about thumb sucking and when you see him making an effort, you should congratulate him and praise him.

  • Definitely repression, ridicule, punishment and rhetoric that will embarrass should avoid!!!

  • You can wrap your finger with a plaster or bandage as a reminder or as a physical barrier. You can put gloves on the hand that has the finger sucked while sleeping. Or you can apply a nail polish that will make it taste bitter when you try to suck your thumb.

What can the Dentist / Orthodontist do?

The orthodontist can give advice and practices about quitting the habit of thumb sucking. If necessary, a habit breaking appliance can be applied.

What happens when the habit is stopped?

If the habit of thumb sucking can be prevented until the age of 7, the teeth and jaw structure that has been disrupted in this process can be corrected with normal growth and development.

If the habit continues after the age of 7, the deteriorations that occur may show a permanent feature and lose the chance of spontaneous recovery. In order to correct the problem that has occurred, it will be necessary to bring the teeth and jaws to the appropriate positions with intraoral/extraoral functional appliances and bracket applications in the ongoing process.

Although it is not possible to start orthodontic treatment without completely abandoning the habit, continuing bad habits will cause the teeth to deteriorate again after orthodontic treatment.

Does the pacifier habit have the same effect as the thumb sucking habit?

The use of a pacifier can cause the movement of milk teeth. However, until the age of 7, when permanent teeth begin to appear in the mouth, the habit of using pacifiers creates smaller problems than the habit of thumb sucking. The habit of pacifier use is less common in society than thumb sucking and can be treated much more easily. Continued use of pacifiers after the age of 7 causes orthodontic problems.

Pacifiers used during infancy and baby teeth in the mouth should not be used with sweeteners such as sugar, jam, honey, in order not to create a habit and not to rot the teeth.


  • All habits, the longer they last, the harder it is to stop.

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