Thumb and Finger Appliances

Child Sucking ThumbThumb and finger-sucking habits are a perfectly natural way for babies and toddlers to soothe themselves, but as a child grows, there comes a point when this once-comforting habit can cause more harm than good.

If this habit is prolonged, it can damage the growth pattern of the jaw. Due to the rich blood supply and how quickly the jaw is growing, the pressure from finger and thumb sucking pushes the teeth and bones out of shape. If your child is a vigorous thumb-sucker, the chances of a malformed jaw are much more significant.

The good news is that your Sugarland, TX, children's dentistry has a solution. To help prevent 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 similar to a retainer that an older child might wear after braces. It is made from metal with semicircular wires that form a palatal crib. Your Richmond special needs pediatric dentistry will attach the appliance just behind the upper teeth. With the crib in place, your child cannot make contact with the roof of the mouth with their fingers and thumbs. By preventing this contact, your child will no longer feel pleasure from sucking, and 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?

Fixed Palatal CribAnother habit that is natural for young children is tongue thrusting. As an infant, your child has to thrust their tongue backward to swallow safely. As your child grows, the habit becomes less and less necessary, and most children grow out of it by age six. However, in some cases, the habit persists, causing potential issues similar to thumb-sucking, such as crossbites, misaligned teeth, etc.

A tongue-thrusting appliance is similar to the palatal crib used to prevent 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.

Get Started with an Appliance at Your Sugarland Children's Dentistry Today!

If your child's thumb-sucking or tongue-thrusting habits have persisted beyond the recommended age, it may be time to consider a thumb and finger appliance from your Richmond special needs pediatric dentistry.

On their first visit to our practice, one of our dentists will provide a thorough examination, including dental impressions, photos, and x-rays. 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 place it during a follow-up appointment.

As your premier pediatric dentists in Sugarland, TX, proudly serving Rosenberg and Richmond, TX, we believe there is nothing more important than your child's oral health. If you have questions about thumb and finger appliances, or you'd like to make an appointment, contact Larry Caldwell, DDS & Associates, to get your child on the path to excellent oral health!

Larry Caldwell, DDS & Associates

  • Sugar Land Location - 15200 S.W. Freeway, Suite 320, Sugar Land, TX 77478 Phone: 281-565-5437

Office Hours

Monday – Thursday: 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Friday: 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Closed for lunch (daily): 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

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