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Stop Thumb Sucking & Finger Sucking With A Habit Appliance

Vigorous Thumb Suckers Can Change The Growth Pattern For Their Teeth & Jaw

stop thumb suckingChildren’s jaws, rich in blood supply and growing rapidly, are relatively soft and flexible — especially in kids under the age of eight. So it really isn’t hard for the constant pressure of a thumb or finger to deform the soft bone around the upper and lower front teeth. Children who are particularly vigorous thumb suckers are even more likely to change the growth patterns of the teeth and jaws.

If the thumb sucking habit persists, it can result in the upper front teeth flaring out. In addition, the lower ones move back and inward. It can also hold back the growth of the lower jaw, while causing the upper jaw to be thrust forward. As a result, the misalignment of teeth, an anterior open bite (where the front teeth fail to close together), collapse of the upper jaw causing crossbite, or other problems can happen. That’s why it is important to stop the behavior at an appropriate time, before damage occurs.

Stop Thumb Sucking Or Finger Sucking With A Habit Appliance

Like many potentially harmful behavior patterns, thumb sucking can be a difficult habit to break. Through the years, parents have tried a variety of home remedies to stop thumb sucking. These include having the child wear gloves, coating the digits with a bitter-tasting substance — and even reasoning with their toddlers. Sometimes it works — but in other cases, the allure of thumb sucking proves very difficult to control.

fixed palatal cribIf your child has a thumb or finger sucking habit that has persisted past the age of three, and you’ve been unable to tame it, then it may be time for you to visit one of our orthodontic offices in Camdenton, Lebanon or Waynesville, MO. We will consider treating your child with a “habit appliance” such as a fixed palatal crib or a removable device. This crib isn’t for sleeping — it’s a small metal appliance worn inside the mouth, attached to the upper teeth.

How Does A Habit Appliance Stop Thumb Sucking & Finger Sucking?

The semicircular wires of a palatal crib keep the thumb or finger from touching the gums behind the front teeth. Simply preventing this contact seems to take all the enjoyment away from the thumb sucking habit — and without that pleasurable feedback, a child has no reason to continue the behavior. In fact, the device is often successful the first day it’s worn.

Getting And Using A Habit Appliance

If your child could benefit from a habit appliance, the first step is to get a thorough examination. This exam may include taking X-rays, photographs and dental impressions. If it’s recommended, a crib will then be custom-fabricated to fit your child’s mouth, and placed at a subsequent appointment. Afterwards, your child will be periodically monitored until the appliance is removed — typically, a period of months.

Although wearing the crib isn’t painful, your child may experience some soreness in the upper back teeth for a few hours after it’s first installed. He or she may also have a little trouble falling asleep for a day or two afterward. Plenty of extra attention and TLC are usually all that’s needed to make everything all right. While the appliance is being worn, it’s best to avoid chewing gum and eating hard, sticky food that might cause it to come loose.

A Word About Tongue Thrusting

Like thumb sucking, tongue thrusting is a normal behavioral pattern in young children. It’s actually part of the natural infantile swallowing pattern, which will normally change on its own — by the age of six, in most children. However, if the pattern doesn’t change, it can lead to problems similar to those caused by thumb sucking. These include problems with tooth alignment and skeletal development. Fortunately, this problem can be successfully treated with a habit appliance that’s very similar to a fixed palatal crib.

Related Articles

how thumb sucking affects bite

How Thumb Sucking Affects The Bite

Thumb sucking can actually block the front teeth from erupting fully. In addition, it can also push the teeth forward — sometimes more on the side where the thumb rested. How far out of position the teeth end up will depend on the number of hours per day the thumb was in the child’s mouth. How much pressure was applied is also an important factor. When the pressure exerted by the thumb in the mouth is particularly strong and occurs over a long period of time, the forces can potentially influence growth of the jaws…

Read Article



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Come Visit One Of Our 3 Convenient
Orthodontic Offices In Missouri!
Lebanon Orthodontic Office
590 Lynn St. (North Highway 5)
Lebanon, MO 65536
Monday through Friday, 8:00a - 5:00p

(417) 344-8061


Waynesville Orthodontic Office
100 Lafayette Cir.
Waynesville, MO 65583
Monday through Friday, 8:00a - 5:00p

(573) 433-8601


Camdenton Orthodontic Office
293 E. Hwy. 54, Suite 102
Camdenton, MO 65020
Monday through Friday, 8:00a - 5:00p

(573) 525-9081


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