My Myo Matters

Thumb sucking

Thumb sucking can be such a hard habit to break!

Thumb sucking is a habit that many babies are born with – and in some cases may even start in the womb. 

 

Thumb sucking normally ceases between 18 months and 2 years when solid foods are introduced and interventions to stop it are vital to prevent complications in teeth, breathing and speech development. 

 

If it is not stopped, it can lead to negative developments on the jaw, tongue placement, teeth eruption and position, a lisp and other conditions.

What are the effects of thumb or lip sucking?

There are a variety of issues that can emerge from thumb or lip, blanket or dummy sucking. These can include (but are not limited to); 

 

  • Teeth: the pressure of the thumb, digit or dummy can create a high or narrow shape of the palate, leading to crowded or crooked teeth or an overjet (the gap between the top and bottom teeth); 
  • Tongue and airways: can lead to tongue thrusting and airway issues which impact on breathing, eating and sleeping; 

Why do we suck our thumbs?

Thumb sucking is often done for comfort. By having the tongue resting on the palate it releases dopamine and serotonin (a neurotransmitter and a hormone) to soothe, calm and relax. 

 

While most adults do not thumb suck, we find other similarly soothing habits in cheek or lip biting, pen biting or leaning our faces into our hands. These habits can also lead to muscle imbalances and TMJ issues due to an uneven bite.

How can an OMT help?

An OMT therapist will work to strengthen the position of the tongue so that it sits on the palate – providing the same neurotransmitter response. 


OMT is a non-invasive, generally appliance free cessation program to help your child kick the habit of thumb sucking for good!