Dummy sucking and teeth development.


The majority of children will suck their thumb or use a dummy at some point. However, while this is mainly expected of any infant, prolonged sucking can cause problems with development and positioning of teeth. This can eventually cause problems with speech, eating and chewing food. Some cases may also lead to orthodontic treatment at a later stage.

When sucking a dummy or thumb, the pressure from this sucking against the back of the teeth can eventually push the teeth forward. In severe cases, the only treatment is orthodontics. It is important to break the habits early. The longer it occurs, the harder it will be to stop and the more damage will be done to the position of the teeth.

Dummy/thumb sucking affects the development of your child’s teeth

If your baby can not be soothed without a dummy or thumb, try to limit how much time they have it. For example, only give the dummy when they need to sooth themselves to sleep. And try to wean your baby off their dummy by the time they are 1 years old. If your baby’s sucking habit goes on for longer than this, try and stop it before they are 2-3 years old. By this age, there may be signs that the dummy or thumb sucking is affecting the teeth.

Common problems include:

  • a crossbite, when the upper teeth are behind the lower teeth, rather than in front of them
  • an overbite, when the lower teeth are far behind the upper teeth

If you notice changes in your child’s teeth, or are worried about his dummy or thumb sucking, book an appointment to see your dentist.

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