Three Hidden Dangers of Thumb Sucking

Regardless of whether you are your child are thumbsuckers, there’s no denying that the habit is pervasive. Studies show that 12% of adults are habitual thumbsuckers, and many children suck their thumbs and fingers past the age of four. Experts agree that before you look into thumb sucking deterrents or finger guards for kids, it’s important to have a desire to stop the habit and some knowledge of the consequences of continuing. Here are the three biggest reasons that thumbsucking can be a problem, and why you should look for a deterrent.

Tooth Problems

Perhaps the most commonly discussed problem with thumb sucking is that it can lead to overbites, underbites, or crooked teeth. In a few rare cases, it can even lead to speech impediments in small children. Dentists recommend encouraging children to stop thumb sucking around age four, but if your child is past that age (or if you are an adult thumb sucker) now is always a good time to break the habit.


The average person has over 3,000 bacteria on their hands at any given time. For children, who touch everything and are still learning to wash their hands, the amount of germs can be even greater. Not only can thumbsuckers accidentally ingest potentially harmful bacteria, but they could also be spreading germs from their mouth if they touch other objects without washing their hands. That alone should give you pause.

Habits are Contagious

Nearly all babies will suck their thumbs on reflex, but after the age of two, thumbsucking becomes an acquired habit. If your child is a thumbsucker, other children or younger siblings may pick up on this and intrinsically begin to suck their thumbs as well. Whether consciously or unconsciously, other children will understand that the behavior is acceptable, and this can result in them having dental problems or becoming sick later on.

If you’re looking into thumb sucking deterrents, either for a child or for yourself, it’s important to be positive, patient, and persistent. Thumbsucking is a calming habit, and like all habits, it can be difficult to break. Rewarding your child (or yourself) for making progress and focusing on the benefits of not sucking thumbs, in addition to using a tool like a thumb sucking glove, is the best way to break the habit for good.

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