February 10th, 2015
THUMBSUCKING IS A HARD HABIT TO BREAK. A survival instinct at birth, the longer someone sucks their thumb, the harder the habit is to stop.
Dr. Ann Marie Gorczyca, Board Certified Orthodontist says, “People think that only children suck their thumb. I can tell you from experience treating the habit, that this is not the case. Over the course of my 25 year career, I have treated plenty of children to stop thumb sucking. I have also treated high school football players, engaged women getting ready to be married, and people over the age of forty. The longer you wait to stop sucking your thumb, the harder the habit is to break.”
Thumb Sucking Should Be Stopped By Age 7
Thumb sucking cessation is best treated at age 7. Thumb sucking with baby teeth has little or no long term effects on permanent tooth position. Psychologists argue that there is a psychological benefit to thumb sucking at a very early age. But after age 7, thumb sucking will create a malocclusion (bad bite) including flared front teeth, spaced upper teeth, pushed in lower teeth, a narrow upper arch, and front tooth openbite. These are serious bite problems.
An Appliance Can Help Stop Thumbsucking
If caught early, thumb sucking can be treated with a upper jaw habit appliance only. This appliance will stop both the thumb sucking habit and allow the open bite to close naturally.
Orthodontic treatment may also be needed to expand the upper arch and align front teeth after thumb sucking. This is usually done between the ages of 7 to 9 during Phase 1 orthodontic treatment.
Some Tips To Stop Thumbsucking At Home
There are things you can try at home to stop thumb sucking.
- Place a band aid on the finger as a reminder not to suck the finger.
- Put the finger into something which does not taste good like hot sauce, vinegar, or mustard as a taste reminder not to suck the finger.
- Put a smelly sock or a glove on the hand as a smell and touch reminder not to suck the finger.
At any age, your orthodontist can help you stop thumb sucking. To find an orthodontist near you visit www.mylifemysmile.org or visit us at Gorczyca Orthodontics in Antioch, California at www.clubbraces.com. Call us at (925) 757-9000 for a complimentary exam.