Thumb & Finger Appliances

 Child sucking thumb.

Yummy Dental & Orthodontics is proud to be your premier choice when you’re looking for Chicago pediatric orthodontics. We value the wellbeing of all children and place that as our number one priority. It’s our goal to ensure the oral health of your child so that he or she has the strong foundation for a lifetime of great dental health. This doesn’t just include promoting healthy oral regimens, but also curbing bad habits such as thumb sucking.

The Problems of Thumb or Finger Sucking

While thumb and finger sucking can comfort a baby, there eventually comes a point when this habit is harmful to his or her oral health. Thumb sucking usually stops on its own between the ages of two and four, but if it persists much longer, it can drastically change the growth patterns of the jaw and cause serious misalignment of the teeth. Children’s jaws are soft and flexible, allowing the constant pressure of a finger or thumb to deform the soft bone around the upper and lower teeth.

Controlling Thumb or Finger Sucking

Like most harmful behavior patterns, thumb sucking can be a difficult habit to break. Home remedies, making your child wear gloves, or coating the fingers in a bitter substance can sometimes work in curbing the bad habit – but then again, sometimes it doesn’t work either.

If your child has a thumb or finger sucking habit that has persisted past the age of three, it may be time for you to visit our office. We’ll consider treating your child with a habit appliance such as a fixed palatal crib or a removable device. These small metal appliances worn inside the mouth have semicircular wires that keep the thumb or fingers from touching the gums behind the front teeth. Preventing this contact will seemingly take much of the joy out of this bad habit; without the pleasurable feedback, a child will no longer have any reason to continue thumb or finger sucking.

Getting and Using a Habit Appliance

Fixed palatal crib.

If your child could benefit from a habit appliance, the first step is to get a thorough examination. This can include taking photographs, x-rays, and dental impressions. If a crib is recommended, it will then be customized to fit your child’s mouth and placed at a subsequent date. Your child will be periodically monitored until the appliance is removed. This will usually last about a few months.

Though wearing the crib isn’t painful, your child may still experience some soreness in the upper back teeth for the first few hours after it’s installed and may have trouble sleeping the next couple of nights. Extra attention and care is usually all that’s required to make sure that everything is alright. It’s also best if your child avoids eating gum or any other foods that are hard or sticky that may cause the appliance to come loose.

Tongue Thrusting

Much like thumb sucking, tongue thrusting is a normal behavioral pattern (part of the natural infantile swallowing pattern) in young children that will usually go away on its own sometime by the age of six. If it doesn’t go away, it can lead to problems with tooth alignment and skeletal development. Fortunately, this problem can also be treated with a habit appliance that’s similar to a fixed palatal crib.

Contact Your Chicago Pediatric Orthodontist Today!

If you’d like to schedule an appointment for your child, we encourage you to fill out our appointment request form or give us a call. You can reach us at (773) 281-8100 for our Chicago office or (847) 729-4700 for our Glenview office. If you have any other questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to contact us. We look forward to treating your child to a lifetime of great oral health!


Related Articles

Thumb Sucking - Dear Doctor Magazine

How Thumb Sucking Affects The Bite Thumb sucking can actually block the front teeth from erupting fully and 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 and how much pressure was applied. 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