Thumb Sucking

Thumb & Finger sucking habits can have a tremendous impact on how your child's teeth & face develop. The sucking habit not only affects tooth eruption but also proper tongue rest posture and lip structure.

The formation of the child's mouth is vital for proper chewing and speech function for their entire life. The earlier the sucking habit is eliminated the sooner the form is corrected and proper chewing, swallowing and speech can be achieved.  

Certified Orofacial Myologist
By Sandra R. Coulson

Some controversy has existed about the reasons for and the consequences of thumbsucking. Many young children suck thumbs or fingers, but some PERSIST, and for these children the following issues should be addressed: (1) length of time spent sucking, (2) duration per day, and (3) force with which the sucking is done

The occasional thumbsucker or one who thumb-sucks only as she drifts off to sleep is not usually a concern, I'd like to address those who suck for prolonged periods of time frequently during the day and night, and who exert forces on the teeth and the bone of the hard palate.  This pressure can distort and move the bone and teeth, producing what dentists call an "open bite."

Protracted thumbsucking also tends to "shorten" the upper lip, which does not allow "holding power" for the upper front teeth, making them more vulnerable to injury. It also creates some difficulty in producing some speech sounds which are made with the help of the lips. A child who "hides" to suck may not be able to socially interact with his peers in a normal manner. 

There have been many approaches regarding breaking these habits.  Few have been successful, and many are psychologically negative.  I prefer a positive approach, which builds self-esteem and increases maturity.

Parents are at a disadvantage trying to break these habits on their own. It can threaten the relationship between the parent and child, especially if negative reinforcement is used.

I suggest that the best means to correcting a long-term sucking habit is the involvement of a "third party" who intervenes and establishes a relationship with the child.  This produces a positive experience and has a high success rate if the parents remain supportive throughout the program!


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Melody's Story:

 ...We took Melody to see a practitioner, Sandra Coulson, who does orofacial myology. This changed her life (and ours as well). Within one week, we were seeing Melody working less to breathe while sleeping. After a couple of weeks we could observe no apnea while she was sleeping. We have a very high quality pulse ox, and the numbers for her oxygen levels astounded us. She used to be in the 70’s while sleeping without oxygen. Within one week of seeing Sandra her oxygen levels while sleeping were about 89.

Those numbers have steadily increased since then. Now she is typically about 94-95 without oxygen while sleeping, and that number seems to keep rising. Frequently, by morning her oxygen levels are about 96-98. Melody sleeps in a crib in our room and I find it immensely comforting to hear the quiet sound of her rhythmic, non-stressed breathing. In addition to the orofacial myology helping her breathing, Melody has changed in other positive ways as well. For the most part, she no longer snores. It used to be that her snoring was so loud you could hear her from a pretty good distance away. Melody used to be perpetually congested, even when she wasn’t sick. That is no longer the case! Melody used to have her little signature snort while awake. That is resolved. When she is teething she might drool a little more than your average teething baby, but substantially less than she did previously. All of her mouth muscles are so much stronger that she can now drink from a cup!

I am happy to share Melody’s story with anyone who could use it to further disseminate knowledge about what Coulson and Associates do. If we can be a part of helping even one family get the help they need for their baby, we would be honored.

With love,


"I just had to write to share my deep appreciation for Sandy and her team! I have a 2.5 year old daughter with bad hair pulling habit that developed when she was 6 months old (in conjunction with her thumb sucking). After countless efforts to nip the habits ourselves (hair cuts, lovies, blankets, new beds, redirection), we were hopeless. Our pediatrician referred us to Sandy and we immediately felt relief. Sandy and her team were warm and knowledgeable; they reassured us that they could help us break our daughter's hair pulling and thumb habit in a warm and inviting environment with fun, engaging therapy exercises. Our daughter was immediately drawn to Sandy's warm smile, and in just three sessions, we are already seeing no sucking and hair regrowth! We will continue with Sandy and cannot thank her team enough for providing us some guidance and support. I would highly recommend Sandy's therapy to any parent or child with a thumb sucking or hair pulling habit. You are not alone, and Sandy and her team are here to help!"


"Words alone will not express the gratitude I have for the work Sandy did with me.

My breathing, snoring, and sleep problems were solved in such a short time.

It is obvious that she is a highly trained teacher as well. The exercises were fun, simple and I was amazed at how well they worked.

Better yet, my tests continue to show that the results were locked in. What a deal! It was a delight working with her, it only took a short time, with lasting results. I couldn’t ask for more."

Many thanks,

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