Thumb and finger-sucking habits are a perfectly natural way for babies and toddlers to soothe themselves. However, as a child grows there comes a point when this once-comforting habit can cause more harm than good.
While it is completely natural for children to suck their thumbs during the first few years of life, prolonging the habit could cause social awkwardness and damage to the jaw’s growth pattern. Because of the rich blood supply and the quick growing patterns in a child’s jaw, the pressure from fingers and thumbs pushes the teeth and bones out of shape. Therefore, if your child is a vigorous thumb-sucker, the chances of a malformed jaw are much greater.
The good news is that your pediatric dentist and special needs pediatric dentist of Sugar Land/Wharton TX, has a solution. Rather than deal with the development of a crossbite, misaligned teeth, or other related problems in the future, you can use a habit appliance to help your child kick this bad habit before it causes harm.
What Is a Habit Appliance?
A habit appliance is a lot like a retainer that an older child might wear after braces. It is made from metal with semicircular wires that form a palatal crib. Your local pediatric dentist will attach the appliance just behind the upper teeth. With the crib in the way, your child is then unable to make contact with the roof of the mouth with their fingers and thumbs. Preventing this contact results in the patient feeling no pleasure in sucking. And without that pleasure, the habit fades away.
Some patients have found success with the habit appliance after just one day. Whatever the timeline, once you and your child’s pediatric dentist agree that the habit is broken the appliance will be removed.
What About Tongue-Thrusting?
Another habit that is natural for young children is tongue thrusting. When infants swallow they have to thrust their tongues backward in order to get the food safely down. As children grow, the habit becomes less and less necessary and most children grow out of it by age six. However, in some cases the habit persists, thus causing issues similar to thumb-sucking to develop, such as crossbites, misaligned teeth, etc.
Luckily, your Wharton and Sugar Land, TX pediatric dentists have appliances to help with that too. The tongue-thrusting appliance is similar to the palatal crib used for preventing thumb-sucking. The only difference is what the crib specifically blocks. Just as the appliance for thumb-sucking keeps thumbs at bay, the tongue-thrusting appliance gets in the way of the tongue, eliminating access for thrust.
Getting Started with an Appliance
If your child’s thumb-sucking or tongue-thrusting habits have persisted beyond the recommended age, it may be time to consider getting them a thumb and finger appliance from their local pediatric and special needs pediatric dentist.
Contact Larry Caldwell, DDS & Associates today to get your son or daughter started on improving their dental and oral health. On their first visit to our practice, one of our dentists will provide a thorough examination including dental impressions, photos, and x-rays. Then, if the dentist believes a habit appliance is the right course of treatment, he will custom fit a palatal crib to your child’s mouth and have it placed during a follow-up appointment.
As your premier pediatric dentistry in Sugar Land and Wharton, TX, we believe there is nothing more important than your child’s oral and dental health. Reach out to us at 281-565-5437 to schedule your appointment today!