Thumbsucking elimination in Kalamazoo: our office can help!  One of our full-time hygienists is also a certified Orofacial Myologist and can help your child stop sucking his or her thumb!

Babies are born with a suckling reflex, or a natural desire to suck.  Sucking is associated with nourishment and security and causes the release of endorphins in the brain.  As a result, babies often turn to the thumb or finger to get the pleasurable feeling associated with sucking.  As they grow, some children continue to suck their thumb as a way to self-soothe or to fall asleep.  The longer it goes on, the more of a habit it comes.  Older children may suck purely out of habit or boredom.

A little thumb can do a lot of damage!  Thumb sucking can affect mouth growth, tooth alignment, changes to the roof of the mouth, lip posture, breathing, speech, and swallowing.

When should parents become concerned?

It is generally thought that after the eruption of the first permanent tooth, the damage caused by thumb sucking cannot be reversed.  Most professionals will encourage thumb sucking not to go beyond age 4.  At that time, many of the detrimental effects of thumb sucking can be reversed before permanent teeth erupt.

How to break the habit

Identify it early.  Pay attention to what triggers thumb sucking.  Is it boredom, stress, fatigue?  Try to work with the child to combat these triggers in another manner to stop thumb sucking.

Offer positive encouragement.  Children do better with positive reinforcement.  Punishments for thumb sucking may give the child more stress to deal with, thereby increasing the desire for thumb sucking.

Consult your dentist!  There are generally 2 approaches to thumb sucking.  One is oral appliances.  These can be bonded in the mouth and act as a deterrent to thumb sucking.  The other is orofacial myology.  This is a one-on-one session with an expert to provide positive reinforcement, guidance, and strategies to effectively stop thumb sucking quickly.

We’ve tried everything?!  How will an orofacial myologist be different?

Before seeking treatment in our office, most parents have tried everything to stop thumb sucking with little success.  Assuming that the child wants to stop thumb sucking (this is key!), our orofacial myologist, Amanda, has a 100% success rate with children from 4-12 years old.  Part of the reason for her success is that she is a non-family member.  She will develop a special relationship with the child and provide the guidance and positive support needed to stop thumb sucking.

If you are interested in learning more about our thumb sucking elimination program, you can contact us at or to learn more from the American Dental Association on thumb sucking, click here