Contact PiP

  • PiP welcomes your feedback, suggestions, and questions. To contact us, please read our Disclaimer and then email us at

Your email address:

Powered by FeedBlitz


Blog powered by Typepad

« What to Look for in Daycare | Main | A True Grit Mommy in Training »



Ok, hate to say it but I was a thumbsucker as a kid. $5000 (Cdn) in orthodontics later (and that was YEARS ago) I have pearly whites with no cavities.

The problem wasn't necessarily dental malalignment, but MANDIBULAR malalignment. The thumbsucking gave me an overbite (the pressure of the bottom of the thumb pushing on the lower jaw as I sucked forced my lower jaw backwards).

Now, I don't know how long it takes to do that - years, likely. I remember the various techniques my parents used to get me to stop (and I still have an aversion to tabasco sauce, which was the only thing that worked - took one night, apparently) so I must have been 3 or 4 when I finally stopped. But the damage had been done to my jaw. I'm not saying this is going to happen with all kids, but that's my experience.


I *wasn't* a thumbsucker and I still had/have an overbite and had to endure four years of orthodonture. I don't think you can blame mandibular misalignment on thumbsucking if it's stopped before the child's jaw and head are fully formed. My MIL, a dental hygeniest, says that (just like Mary's advice) there shouldn't be any long-term problems if the thumbsucking is stopped before ages five or six. Most overbites are caused by genetics, even if neither parent has an overbite. It's in the DNA somewhere.


Hm. Perhaps I wasn't clear. What I meant, was that thumbsucking and pressure on the jaw was cited as a POTENTIAL cause of my overbite or something that exacerbated a genetic predisposition. Genetics definitely do have something to do with it as well (although, in my family, as far back as we could figure out from pictures, etc. on both sides, I was the only one with an overbite of that magnitute)

That's my experience, is all I'm sayin' :)


Although most stories of thumb sucking are urban legends, I do have two words of caution from personal experience. They're contradictory, but real life often is.

1. Forcing a child to stop sucking before they're ready can cause anxiety. My mother regrets making me stop sucking at the age of three because it set me up with a lifeling nail-biting habit. So try to avoid pushing.

2. BUT I was forced to stop because my older sister has permenatly deformed thumbs from her habit. Very stubby, arched like the roof of her mouth and prone to ingrown nails due to shape. But Elle sucked pretty much all day and most of the night. Her habit did start after a fairly traumatic hospitalization around eight months old, though.

Bottom line? Gentleness, understanding, and a watchful eye.


I know, I'm jumping the gun on worrying here. It just bothers me for some reason. I'm glad to know that it's not doing harm right now and much happier to know that most kids give it up at 2-3 years. Thanks.


I sucked my thumb until 3rd grade. By the older years I know I only did it at night. My parents tried EVERYTHING to get me to stop. What worked? I got a cold that stopped up my nose so badly I couldn't breath at night unless I took the thumb out. I did need dental work (but everyone in my family did). I don't have any other physical problems from it, and I feel I've turned out fairly well adjusted. Both my boys now suck their thumbs. I'm wondering if there's a genetic link to that! ;-)

Mary P

I'm beginning to think there's a genetic link to just about EVERYTHING...

The comments to this entry are closed.

Books PiP Recommends