I sucked my thumb until I was 13 years old. My teeth have suffered badly. My top teeth are shaped in an upward curve and are out of alignment. I want to get them fixed. What do I need to do to get them to return to normal.

-Jeanie in Kansas

Jeanie,

I recommend you find an orthodontist in your area. They will be able to correct the misalignment you have from sucking your thumb. Invisalign braces could solve your problem. Without seeing your particular case it is hard to see if you have other options.

Thumb sucking is a common concern of parents whose children have this habit. The best advice is to not worry too much about it. If you make it a really big deal, you may create a complex in your child. Unfortunately, this will have the opposite affect and will actually reinforce the behavior. Thumb sucking does not cause permanent damage to the baby teeth. This means that you are okay until the age of about seven or so. Most likely, when a child starts school their friends will play a large part into making them stop.

Since you sucked your thumb until the age of 13, it did cause damage to your permanent teeth. So, just relax and for most this behavior takes care of itself.

If you are still dealing with your kids sucking their thumb after losing baby teeth, you may need to do something more. Positive encouragement is the way to go. Don’t force them, punish them, or cause shame. This could have lasting implications on your child’s self esteem.

If it still is an issue, there are aids that can help. Although, these aids have the most success when the child truly wants to quit. So, if they do want to stop then you can try a bitter liquid called Thum. This product and other similar products make thumb sucking unpleasant. This will cause them to associate the bad taste with the behavior and under the right circumstances, it will help.

This post was provided by Gilbert dentist Vista Dorada Dental.

Read more about pediatric dentistry.