Sucking a Thumb-Braces?

Q. I have an 8-year-old daughter that sucks her thumb. Her front teeth are sticking out. At what age should she be seen by an orthodontist for braces?

A. In most instances, orthodontic treatment is not initiated until a child or adolescent has lost their baby teeth and the majority of their adult teeth are present. However, there are some orthodontic problems that do require treatment at a younger age; correction of these problems can often alleviate further complications that may arise if left untreated. Because of this, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children get a check-up with an orthodontic specialist no later than age 7. At this initial exam, the orthodontist will be able to check for any developing problems that may exist, such as severe crowding or spacing, a large overbite or crossbite of the front or back teeth, or any harmful oral habits. Oral habits such as thumb sucking are common in young children and usually do not require any intervention if the child is able to stop the habit on her own. If the habit persists, it can be detrimental to the proper development of teeth and jaws. If your child’s bite is normal and there are no underlying conditions that would warrant early treatment, your orthodontist may want to monitor her growth and development so that treatment can be initiated at the proper time, if needed.

Daniel Sawrie, D.D.S., M.S.

Sawrie Orthodontics

4727 Brainerd Rd.

Chattanooga, TN 37411