Is Thumb Sucking Harmful to my Baby’s Teeth?

Little baby soothing her itchy gums by putting her thumb and hand in her mouth

Today I am excited to feature a guest blog post from Dr. Nanna Ariaban from Polkadot Pediatric Dentistry. She has a wonderful topic that many of us can relate to when parenting little ones. Thumb sucking, or in my son’s case pacifier addiction, is a topic that we often discuss with other parents but could benefit from additional professional advice.

Is Thumb Sucking Harmful to my Baby’s Teeth?

Should I be concerned that my baby’s teeth will be affected by thumb-sucking?

While it is perfectly normal for babies to suck their thumbs, it could become problematic as he or she begins to develop permanent teeth, and could lead to dental and jaw alignment problems. Should you be concerned about this early on, or at what point should you be concerned about trying to stop your baby from sucking its thumb?

Thumb sucking occurs in approximately eighty percent of infants and children. In fact, babies will generally begin to suck their thumbs while in the womb. After they are borne, they will suckle their fists, fingers, binky’s, passies, and toys. They do this for a number of reasons:

  • Emotional comfort
  • Teething
  • Security
  • Natural tendency
  • Habit

Child and infant thumb sucking can offer comfort to your child, and most children will eventually outgrow this on their own as they get older. But in some cases, some children will have difficulty letting go because it has become much like a security blanket to them. “If they don’t outgrow the habit on their own, certain problems can begin develop such as malocclusion (abnormal tooth alignment), and upper and lower jaw development can be compromised, as well,” says Dr. Nanna Ariaban of Polkadot Pediatric Dentistry. Children can also develop an overbite or buck teeth due to thumb sucking teeth damage when their teeth are being constantly pushed out while the thumb is in their mouth; especially in the case of aggressive thumb sucking as they begin to grow their permanent teeth.

Your child can also develop speech problems and find it difficult to articulate certain words because his or her teeth or jaws are not aligning properly, and this will ultimately lead to permanent damage if not corrected in time. If your child is exhibiting this type behavior, it’s best to speak with a pediatric dentist. A pediatric dentist can give you the kind of advice you need when it comes to asking questions about an anti-thumb sucking device or other ways to stop baby from sucking its thumb. If your child has also gotten into the habit of nail biting, the dentist can offer advice to how to stop this habit from becoming permanent, as well.

There are measures parents can take to help children to break the habit such as thumb sucking guards, putting gloves or socks on the child’s hands at night, purchasing a leather thumb guard, or a washable rubber thumb guard. Thumb guards for children can be found at your babies dentist office or online on the Internet, but for safety reasons, it’s always best to check with a knowledgeable dentist just to be on the safe side and to check which method is more age-appropriate for your particular case.

Overall, there is really not much need to worry about your child sucking his or her thumb while they are infants and into early childhood, as they will eventually outgrow the habit on their own. Although damage to proper jaw growth and alignment begins throughout their early development years, once they reach the stage of losing their primary teeth, and their permanent teeth begin to come in, if they are still in the habit of sucking their thumb, they are at greater risk for endangering their permanent teeth.


Dr. Nanna Ariaban of Polkadot Pediatric Dentistry is a board certified pediatric dentist in Alpharetta Ga, who serves children in other nearby cities including Johns Creeks and Roswell. To learn more Polkadot Pediatric Dentistry or Dr. Nanna Ariaban visit polkadotdental.com website or call (678) 389-6669.


Dr. Nanna Ariaban is a Board Certified Children’s Dentist in Alpharetta, Georgia. Her busy pediatric practice consists of providing dental health care to infants, adolescents, teens, and to children of special needs. Dr. Nanna (as called by her patients) has additional training in administering oral sedation to patients in her office, and also provides extensive dental treatment at hospital facilities.

She is a graduate from the following Universities: University of Maryland: Bachelor of Science Degree in Neurobiology and Physiology; University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine: Doctorate of Dental Medicine; and she attended the University of Illinois-Chicago to become a Board-Certified Pediatric Dentist. Dr. Nanna is a member of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, Georgia Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the Southeastern Society of Pediatric Dentistry, and the American Dental Association.

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