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Can Braces Fix Teeth Damaged By Thumb Sucking?

Thumb sucking guard to help your child stop sucking their thumb

Thumb sucking is an inate habit present in some children. This is generally due to the childs suckling reflex when they are born which helps soothe children. However, this habit can stay throughout childhood and be with the child through their younger years to teenage years and even in some cases to adulthood.

What is the damage to the teeth by sucking your thumb?

By sucking your thumb you are encouraging:

  • Development of the cheek muscles
  • Pushing your tongue away from the roof of your mouth
  • Protruding of your upper front teeth

All the above can result in a narrow upper arch which limits the amount of space for the teeth and can result in crowding issues. The upper teeth are also protruded forward which can result in a unaesthetic appearance.

30 Year Old Patient

Consequences of sucking your thumb 2

The above patient is a 30 year old adult who sucked her thumb extensively as a child. As a direct result, you can see the negative effect on how her teeth developed crooked and wonky.

9 Year Old Patient

Consequences of sucking your thumb 2

The above patient is a 9 year old child who sucked her thumb extensively. As an unfortunate consequence, her teeth are now protruding, with a narrow upper arch and an open bite.

How can braces help?

First and foremost it is important to try to stop sucking your thumb altogether. Once this has been achieved orthodontic treatment can correct most problems. This generally involves an expander brace in the upper arch to widen the upper jaw. This can provide more room for the teeth to align. Following this, fixed braces can be used to align the upper and lower teeth, aswell as pushing the upper protruded teeth back.

Do you still have unanswered questions? Please feel free to submit them below!

By Dr Gursh Bajwa

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