Thumb and Finger Appliances

Child sucking thumb.For a baby, everything is new, which puts them in a constant state of exploration and discovery as they do their best to make sense of this big and confusing world that they were suddenly thrust into. One of the newest and most interesting to a baby is their own body, experimenting with how things like their hands and mouth work and getting accustomed to their senses. In their process of learning, babies tend develop habits such as thumb sucking or tongue thrusting. These habits have no repercussions as they are still a baby and often serve as a method for them to comfort themselves. Most kids outgrow these habits and stop naturally by they reach the ages of two or four, but if the habits persist as the child grows older, they could lead to issues with their oral development that may require extensive treatment to fix.

Why Is Thumb Sucking & Tongue Thrusting Harmful For Children?

The reason that these habits pose no danger to toddlers is because they have not yet had their baby teeth come in. It’s when these teeth start to erupt that their oral development is beginning to enter a crucial and sensitive stage. With thumb and finger sucking, pressure is consistently being exerted onto the developing teeth and jaw bone, which can lead to deformation or slowed growth of the bone, as well as severely misaligned teeth that flare out towards the lips.

Tongue thrusting is another habit that has a similar effect to finger sucking, stemming from the natural swallowing pattern from when the child was an infant. With this habit, the child holds onto the action of sticking their tongue out through their teeth when performing normal actions like speaking or eating. As the tongue presses against the developing teeth, the can be pushed outwards which can become a serious bite problem or cause other issues with their jaw’s development. It can be harder to identify if a child still has the habit since it is not as visually apparent, so paying close attention to your child’s speech patterns or if you can see their tongue protruding on a regular basis.

How To Help Your Kids Break Their Habit

Fixed palatal crib.As with any habit, tongue thrusting and finger sucking are behaviors that can be difficult to break your child away from. While there are strategies to break these habits that you can try with your kids at home, the chance of success if inconsistent. At Lindsey Orthodontics, we recommend professional treatment using orthodontic habit appliances that are designed specifically to break these habits and guide your child’s oral development so they can have a healthy smile as they get older.

How Orthodontic Habit Appliances Work

One of the most common habit appliances that we offer here at Lindsey Orthodontics is called a “palatal crib”. This appliance is composed of a set of wires that are then attached to the upper set of teeth, with one wire following along the curvature of the teeth and another set of wires that extend out towards the area around the gums at the roof of the mouth. When your child goes to suck their thumb or finger, the primary sensation that they get from the action is the contact between their finger and the gums behind their front teeth, but with the habit appliance, their finger is blocked from reaching that area. Preventing this sensation will lead your child naturally dropping the habit. For the case of tongue thrusting, we will use a similar appliance that is designed to control the movement of the tongue.

How Can My Child Get A Habit Appliance?

If your child has a finger sucking or tongue thrusting habit, all you have to do is give us a call at Lindsey Orthodontics to schedule an appointment. The habit appliances that we offer are custom made to ensure that your child is as comfortable as possible, utilizing advanced imaging technology to ensure the best fit. As your child wears their appliance, we will monitor their dental development over the next 6 months and observe their progress with breaking the habit.

Contact Your Local Orthodontist!

To prepare your children for a future full a healthy radiant smiles, just contact us to schedule a time for you and your kids visit either of our local orthodontic offices in Griffin or Locust Grove. We have worked with countless families from all around our community, building an ever-growing family of our own with smiling patients of all ages while always providing the most effective and comfortable orthodontic care. If you have any questions about thumb and finger appliances, or any of our other orthodontic services, reach out to us to speak with a member of our staff who will be happy to get you all of the information you need and more. Dr. Lindsey and our entire orthodontic staff look forward to meeting you!