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Thumb Sucking Deterrents and When They’re Needed

A young girl sucking her thumb

Thumb Sucking Deterrents and When They’re Needed

Thumb Sucking Deterrents and When They’re Needed 1024 677 Peak Orthodontics

Thumb sucking can be a common behaviour among infants and young children, often providing them comfort and a sense of security. However, when this habit persists beyond a certain age, it can lead to dental and orthodontic issues. That’s where thumb sucking deterrents may come into play. In this blog post, we’ll explore what thumb sucking deterrents are, why they may be needed, and how they can be instrumental in helping break this habit.


What is a thumb sucking deterrent?

A thumb sucking deterrent is a device or product designed to discourage and ultimately stop the habit of thumb sucking. These deterrents come in various forms, ranging from simple topical solutions to specially designed orthodontic appliances. Their primary goal is to make thumb sucking an unpleasant experience, helping children break the habit naturally.

When is a thumb sucking deterrent needed?

Thumb sucking is a normal and self-soothing behaviour in infants, which may even start in the womb. However, as children grow, the habit typically diminishes on its own. If thumb sucking persists beyond the age of five or six, it can lead to dental issues, including misalignment of the teeth and changes in the roof of the mouth. This is when thumb sucking deterrents may be recommended.

Persistent Habit Beyond Preschool Years:

If a child continues to suck their thumb after the age of five or six, it’s important to address the habit. At this stage, the development of permanent teeth is in progress, and persistent thumb sucking can impact the alignment of these teeth.

Dental or Orthodontic Concerns:

When a child’s thumb sucking begins to affect their dental or orthodontic health, it becomes necessary to intervene. Common issues include an open bite (where the top teeth don’t meet together when the mouth is closed) or protruding front teeth.

What are the Types of Thumb Sucking Deterrents?

  • Bitter-Tasting Topical Solutions:
    • These are safe, non-toxic liquids that are applied to the thumb. The bitter taste makes thumb sucking unpleasant, acting as a natural deterrent. They are often clear and odourless.
  • Thumb Guards or Covers:
    • These are physical barriers placed over the thumb to make sucking more challenging and less satisfying. Thumb guards are often made of soft, comfortable materials to avoid causing discomfort.
  • Orthodontic Appliances:
    • Orthodontic devices, such as habit-breaking appliances, can be installed by orthodontists to discourage thumb sucking. These appliances are tailored to the individual’s needs and can be effective in breaking the habit.

While thumb sucking is a natural and comforting behaviour for infants, its persistence into later childhood can lead to dental challenges. It is important to try and gently discourage your child from thumb sucking, as your child should be ready and motivated to stop the habit themselves for the deterrents to work effectively. By providing encouragement and introducing these deterrents at the right time, parents and caregivers can support their children in breaking the habit, nurturing healthy dental habits, and help the development of a beautiful smile. If you are concerned about your child’s thumb sucking habit, why not book a consultation with the friendly team at Peak Orthodontics. 



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