Habbit Breaking Appliances

childrens dental treatments for thumb sucking

Thumb Sucking Habit Breaking Appliance

Sucking is a natural reflex that relaxes and comforts babies and toddlers. Children should cease thumb sucking when the permanent front teeth are ready to erupt. Typically, children stop between the ages of 2 and 4 years. Thumb sucking that persists beyond the eruption of permanent teeth can cause improper growth of the mouth and malalignment of the teeth. If you notice prolonged and/or vigorous thumb sucking behavior in your child, talk to Dr. Feldhaus.  There are several things that can be tried at home to break the habit.
If all options are exhausted, a more permanent solution to thumb sucking is an appliance called a “fixed palatal crib”.  This appliance is custom made by the dental laboratory after an impression is taken by Dr. Feldhaus. The appliance is cemented on the upper six year permanent molars and is positioned behind the upper front teeth on the roof of the mouth. The crib consists of semicircular stainless steel wires that are fastened to molars using steel molar bands.  The stainless steel wires fit behind the child’s upper front teeth, and they are barely visible, if at all.  This appliance does not cause any discomfort and is not affected by eating.  It serves as a reminder to the child that the thumb is not suppose to be in his mouth.  The crib usually stops the habit of thumb sucking within weeks or months.  Dr. Feldhaus normally recommends leaving the appliance in place for at least 6 months or longer.  Then, the appliance is kept after it is removed and can be recemented in the patient if the habit is started again.

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Tongue Thrust Habit Breaking Appliance

childrens dental treatments for tongue thrusting

Tongue thrusting, simply defined, is the habit of placing the tongue in the wrong position during swallowing, either too far forward or to the sides. It is estimated that every 24 hours you swallow a total of 1,200 to 2,000 times, with about four pounds of pressure per swallow. This constant pressure of the tongue will force the teeth and arches out of alignment. Besides the pressure exerted while swallowing, nervous thrusting also pushes the tongue against the teeth while it is at rest. This is an involuntary, subconscious habit that is difficult to correct.  A tongue thrusting appliance is made for the patient that is permanently cemented in place.  It is necessary to correct this habit prior to doing orthodontic treatment on a patient.  If this habit is not corrected, the teeth will relapse after orthodontics due to the tongue pushing against the teeth when swallowing.