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How Orthodontic Appliances Can Curb Your Child’s Thumb Sucking

Thumb sucking is a common way that babies self-soothe themselves. But if children don’t forego this habit as they grow, their behavior can lead to changes in the shape of the teeth and the mouth. Is your child unable to stop sucking his or her thumb? While you may be worried about the consequences, there are ways to curb this habit. An orthodontic thumb guard is one way to discourage these behaviors as your child grows. Today’s post will highlight a few of the adverse effects of thumb sucking, as well as the available corrective measures for the habit.

What Are the Possible Adverse Effects of Thumb Sucking?

Thumb sucking among children can lead to two kinds of malocclusion or teeth misalignment. These malocclusions include the overbite or open bite problems. In an open bite, your child’s lower and upper front teeth get directed outwards. An overbite causes the misalignment of the upper front teeth, which are then directed outwards. Overbite problems can also change the shape of your child’s smile and face. Thumb sucking can impact your child’s speech, as well, because it hampers the proper development of your child’s palate, jaw, and teeth.

Children who suck their thumbs can also make the skin of their thumbs vulnerable to cracks and bleeding, which increases the risk of skin infections. Unfortunately, children who suck their thumbs are often a target of ridicule and bullying among their peers. As such, your child may also experience social issues if this habit continues.

Which Orthodontic Thumb Guards Can Help Your Child?

The Hawley Retainer Appliance

This appliance is akin to what some orthodontic patients wear after the removal of their metal braces or Invisalign. However, it has more semi-circular wires, which discourage the thumb-sucking habit. The wires are connected to a removable plastic appliance that lies on the upper part of the mouth cavity. The plastic part changes the feeling of having a thumb in the child’s mouth and this feeling is often enough to discourage the habit.

The Bluegrass Thumb Guard

If your child doesn’t respond to the rake or Hawley retainer appliances, you can try the bluegrass orthodontic thumb guard. This type of thumb guard uses a roller, which helps in discouraging the thumb-sucking habit. The roller breaks the habit while allowing the anterior teeth to take their normal alignment and positions.

Thumb Crib Guards

If your child is a notorious thumb-sucking kid, then you may need a fixed guard to help in curbing the habit. Fixed palatal thumb cribs are small metallic appliances that are set inside your child’s mouth. These appliances are then attached to the upper molars of your child’s mouth. The crib appliance consists of soldered wires, which prevents your child’s thumb from touching the gum lining behind your child’s front teeth. The device diminishes the satisfaction, which your child derives from sucking the thumb, meaning your child won’t be encouraged to continue.


If your child is five years or older and still sucks their thumb, you should see an orthodontist. This is a crucial stage in their development and you may need to help them curb their habit. Stopping the habit prevents malocclusions and other orthodontic problems, which may require orthognathic surgery as they advance.

Approximately 20% of the population shows some level or marked facial growth deformities, some of which may begin in childhood due to thumb-sucking habits. At the orthodontist’s office, your orthodontist can assess damage that this habit may be causing and the kind of orthodontic thumb guard needed to stop it.