Does Thumb Sucking Cause Buck Teeth? Is this a “Tooth Truth” or “Mouth Myth?”

Post Published on: August 11, 2011 | By Dakota Dental

apple valley dentistGood question!  Let’s see what our myth-bustin’ Apple Valley dentists, Dr. Shelley and Dr. Bennett from Dakota Dental Apple Valley Dentistry have to say …

Despite its reputation as an old wives’ tale, this is actually a “Tooth Truth” … IF the practice of thumb sucking continues past a certain age.

It turns out that about 80 percent of infants and children suck their thumbs. It’s a perfectly natural reflex and is frequently seen in prenatal ultrasounds. Sucking thumbs, fingers, or pacifiers may help babies feel secure. Young children often suck their thumbs to help soothe themselves, relax, and fall asleep.

However, because the American Dental Association warns that prolonged thumb sucking can cause misalignment of teeth, it’s a good idea to discourage thumb sucking after the age of 4, when the gums, jaw, and permanent teeth begin their most significant growth. After this age, it’s possible for thumb sucking to contribute to the misalignment of teeth and can cause changes in the roof of the mouth.

Pacifiers can affect teeth in the same ways as sucking fingers and thumbs, but pacifier sucking is usually an easier habit to break.

The intensity of thumb sucking also determines whether or not dental problems result. Children who just rest their thumbs passively in their mouths are less likely to have alignment issues than those who vigorously suck their thumbs. Very aggressive thumb sucking can even cause problems to baby (primary) teeth. If you notice any changes in your child’s primary teeth, give Dakota Dental Apple Valley Dentistry a call.

If your child is a thumb sucker – don’t worry. Children usually stop sucking their thumbs between the ages of two and four years old.

Here are some helpful tips from Dakota Dental Apple Valley Dentistry:

  • Always be positive and gentle. Praise children for not sucking vs. scolding them when they are.
  • Children often suck their thumbs when feeling insecure or needing comfort. Focus on correcting the cause of the anxiety and provide lots of comfort and TLC to your child.
  • For an older child, involve him or her in choosing the method of stopping.
  • Your Apple Valley dentists, Dr. Shelley and Dr. Bennett can offer positive encouragement and support to your child and explain what might happen to their teeth if they continue thumb sucking.

When a child’s permanent teeth begin to grow in, continued thumb sucking can cause a misalignment of the teeth, called a malocclusion that may go away if the habit is stopped. But over time, the thumb eventually pushes the top teeth out, at which point orthodontic and cosmetic dentistry procedures may be necessary to correct alignment.

Regardless the cause of misalignment or concern, your Dakota Dental Apple Valley Dental Clinic is uniquely qualified to provide you with information and the appropriate dental services and cosmetic dentistry procedures needed. Your Dakota Dental Apple Valley Dental Clinic was awarded the Preferred Provider status for the third year in a row by Invisalign for clinical proficiency and for exceeding continuing educational requirements and Dr. Shelley is one of fewer than 100 dentists in Minnesota to have received a certificate recognizing her participation in a post-doctorate degree program in aesthetic dentistry at the University of Minnesota.

Well, that wraps up this “Tooth Truth” or “Mouth Myth” blog post! Send your questions about those old sayings, wives’ tales or commonly held beliefs about teeth and oral health that you’ve been wondering about to your Dakota Dental Apple Valley Dental Clinic at: and watch this blog where we’ll let you know if it’s a “Tooth Truth” or a “Mouth Myth.”