There are many longstanding myths and beliefs about thumb sucking that influence parents today. Some “facts” are true, but many have been proven incorrect by current research. Test your knowledge below and see if what you believe is still accurate. Dr. Villani and Dr. Kondrat of Brighton Family Dental can help you also with these answers.

True or False:

  1. As long as a child stops sucking his or her thumb before their permanent teeth come in, no long term damage will occur.
  2. Thumb sucking is a habit a child acquires shortly after birth.
  3. Disciplining a child is an effective way to get them to stop sucking his or her thumb.
  4. A child is hyperaware when they are sucking his or her thumb.
  5. Putting a glove or a mitten on a child’s hand will help them stop sucking his or her thumb.
  6. Ignoring your child’s thumb sucking will make it go away.
  7. Gradually weaning your child off of thumb sucking is not a good idea.


If you answer “true” to any of the above questions, you are incorrect as each answer is “false.”

  1. Recent research indicates that thumb sucking can lead to dental problems requiring braces later in life if a child of two years of age or older sucks his or her thumb in a certain way. The issue is the intensity and the powerfulness they use to suck his or her thumb. If you hear a noise during his or her thumb sucking, there most likely is a problem. This type of sucking can lead to pressure on the upper jaw and the soft tissue of the mouth. A lisp may even develop.
  2. Thumb sucking usually begins before birth – while a child is in his or her mother’s womb.
  3. Disciplining a child for thumb sucking has proven to be very ineffective. What has proven successful is to let your child know that when they are ready to stop sucking his or her thumb, you will be there to help them.
  4. Like many habits, children often are unaware that they are sucking their thumb. Gently ask them if they know they are.
  5. A child will just remove the glove or mitten.
  6. Ignoring your child’s thumb sucking does not usually work. True, a child may stop on his or her own eventually due to peer pressure, but positive reinforcement when a child does not suck his or her thumb will bring change earlier.
  7. Gradual weaning of thumb sucking has proven to work. Ask your child to only suck his or her thumb at home. Once they have mastered that, then get ask them to only suck his or her thumb in their room. Before long, it will only be at bedtime and then he or she will drop the habit.

About Brighton Family Dental Group:

Brighton Family Dental Group is located in Brighton MA. Featuring experienced dentists and an excellent range of in-office treatments, Brighton Family Dental Group is a great destination for any member of your family who is in need of dental care. Patients can schedule an appointment or a consultation with Dr. Thomas Villani by calling (617) 562-5210.