Thumb Sucking and Orthodontics: Why Won't an Orthodontist Fit Braces?

While most people who suck their thumbs give up the habit naturally when they are children, some find it harder to stop and may carry on sucking their thumbs into adolescence. From a dental perspective, persistent thumb sucking can cause teeth to become misaligned, and so you may be considering having your child fitted with braces to straighten their teeth. While braces can do this, an orthodontist is not typically likely to recommend bracing if your child is still sucking their thumb. Why aren't braces the right solution for thumb suckers and what can an orthodontist do to help?

The Effects of Thumb Sucking on Orthodontic Treatments

If thumb sucking has damaged teeth and you want to fix the problem, then orthodontics is a viable solution. For example, if this habit has made your child's front teeth protrude, braces can ultimately put those teeth back into alignment.

This kind of orthodontic solution may only work as it should if your child has stopped sucking their thumb before they have treatment. If they are carrying on the habit, sucking may interfere with the remedial work that the braces are trying to correct and it may prevent the braces from working on the teeth as they should.

Plus, even if bracing does straighten out your child's teeth, the thumb sucking habit may push them out of line over time once again after the braces have been removed. This is why an orthodontist may be less than keen to fit braces to fix your child's teeth until they stop sucking their thumb.

How Your Orthodontist Can Help

If your child has reached their teenage years and still hasn't been able to quit their thumb sucking habit, the chances are you've already tried and failed to find a solution that works. In some cases, the need to fix their teeth may be great enough to give them an incentive to quit sucking their thumb; however, things aren't always that easy for some people.

If you haven't found a way to help your child quit this habit and want to have braces fitted, it's worth talking to your orthodontist about dental solutions that may help your child stop sucking their thumb. For example, they can have crib devices fitted to the back of the front teeth that make it difficult to actually suck a thumb comfortably. If your child sucks their thumb without realising it, these devices can also give them a gentle reminder to take their thumb out of their mouth.

Over a period of time, these kinds of devices may force them to quit the habit by simply making it hard to do. If this works, their orthodontist will then typically be much happier about using braces to sort out their teeth problems.