top of page

Is thumb-sucking a problem?

I’m often asked, “When should my child stop using a binky or sucking his thumb?” Consider that as you read this, your tongue is likely on the roof of your mouth. This position acts to shape the roof of your mouth in a broadened and natural form.

When your child has a pacifier or thumb on the roof of their mouth, the shape is formed around it, causing the palate to narrow and force the front teeth forward into an overbite. This can lead to speech problems, irregular wear of the teeth, asymmetric growth of the jaws, and crowding.

Science and research points us toward the answer of when to stop, and that’s as soon as reasonably possible. I know that’s often easier said than done. However, if you can stop thumb sucking or pacifier use prior to age 5 or 6, the adverse side effects can often reverse on their own.

If it persists longer, the side effects are completely correctible with orthodontic intervention. This consists of reshaping the bone with a device called a rapid palatal expander and partial braces. If this intervention is done prior to age 7 or 8, it’s unlikely there will be any long-lasting problems.

Call your orthodontist today to start the discussion on how to help your child stop sucking their thumb or pacifier in a positive way.


Brought to you by:

Brad Chvatal, DMD, MS

(541) 683-8490 •

1400 Valley River Drive, 240, Eugene

1130 E. Main Street, Cottage Grove


bottom of page