Thumb sucking and baby bottle tooth decay

15 November, 2016

When infants get their first teeth, it is a cause for celebration. It’s a rite of passage that all humans go through, and sometimes we forget that oral hygiene must start at the earliest stages, if we hope to prolong a healthy, beautiful smile throughout life. Never is this more true than with young children. Since they cannot take responsibility for their own teeth, it’s up to parents to be aware of possible problems they could face.


Infant sucking is a normal and healthy part of your baby’s development, it helps to soothe them and to produce endorphins to combat pain, during teething, or prevent fussiness. After the age of six, children’s permanent teeth began to come in. Thumb sucking past this point can push teeth out of alignment, causing an overbite. The jaw can also be affected, as can your child’s natural speech development.

  • Never shame a child into stopping. This isn’t healthy, and typically isn’t effective either. Instead offer positive, healthy rewards for children who resist the urge.
  • The child must decide in their own mind to stop the behavior, before effective change will take place. Encourage this, but never try to force it.
  • When your child is ready to work on stopping, placing a disposable bandage over the thumb can help remind them.


Infants that are bottle fed, or even nursing babies that are given bottles as supplement or with other liquids to soothe fussiness, can be at risk for tooth decay. Oral bacteria feed on sugars, causing decay to set in. Here are some tips to prevent it.

  • Rather than giving sugary juices or milk, try plain water to prevent sugars from staying in the mouth.
  • Move infants to cups as soon as they are ready. This will help prevent contact with the sugar coated bottle nipple that causes much of the problem.