Breaking Tongue & Thumb Sucking Habits

myORTHODONTIST offers habit-breaking services for children experiencing tongue thrusts or thumb sucking.

Thumb Sucking

Thumb Sucking & Pacifier Use

Like many parents, you may be concerned about your child’s thumb sucking, finger sucking or pacifier use. You may wonder if it is harmful, at what age it should stop or what could happen if your child does not stop.

Thumb sucking seems like an innocent habit. Infants and young children find it soothing to suck on a thumb, finger or pacifiers. It is quite normal and many children stop sucking their thumb or fingers between the age of two and five years.

However, there are some children who will continue this habit until later years of life, causing not-so-pleasant dental problems and their self-esteem may be greatly affected. These Dental Problems Include:

  • Crooked/misaligned teeth
  • Misaligned jaws and crossbite
  • Narrowed upper jaws
  • Speech defects
  • Orofacial myofunctional disorders (OMDs) – such as abnormal chewing and swallowing patterns (tongue thrust), improper tongue position.

What do you offer to help with thumb sucking?

Laurie Smith RDH offers a 4-week program that will help your patients to keep the thumbs where they should be – away from the mouth! 

Tongue Thrust

A tongue thrust is when a person swallows incorrectly, the tip and/or sides of the tongue press against or spread between the teeth.

Why might a tongue thrust happen?

Constant pressure from resting or incorrectly thrusting the tongue away from the hard palate may push teeth out of place.

That pressure may later prevent teeth from erupting (breaking through the gum).

Correct swallowing depends on a proper relationship between muscles of the face, tongue and throat.


Pacifiers can affect the teeth the same way as sucking fingers and thumbs. Pacifier use is often an easier habit to break.

It is not recommended that children use pacifiers or hard -lidded ‘sippy’ cups after age 2.

Sippy Cups

Babies suckle at birth and slowly advance to more mature swallow patterns. Sippy cups should be introduced at 6-8 months to assist development.

  • Hard-lidded Sippy cups establish tongue protrusion patters.
  • Long-term use of Sippy cups has been associated with developing speech problems, dental infections and cavities.
  • Two years old is the recommended age to stop using Sippy cups and encourage open cup drinking.

All Orthodontic Services Information For New Patients

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