Many psychologists believe that thumb sucking is normal behaviour. Unfortunately, it may lead to dental problems if continued for several years, especially after the age of six when adult teeth begin to appear. The most common effect is protrusion of the upper front teeth. With constant pressure from the thumb, they may angle outward instead of growing straight down and may cause a change in their appearance. Braces or orthodontic work are often needed to correct this.
A deeper or higher palate may be created by continual pressure for the thumb since bone is soft during the formative years. Breathing patterns may also be altered because of changes in the palate. Many mouth breathing adults were thumb sucking children.
Thumb sucking may be a difficult habit to break. Parents should first try talking with their child and help from your dentist may be needed. If these attempts fail, you may consider trying a mouth appliance specifically designed to prevent thumb sucking. Any loss in your child's gratification from thumb sucking will be outweighed by the benefits of a healthier, more functional mouth.