Thumb / Finger habit appliances
Thumb sucking is a natural reaction for some children and is fairly normal in the infancy of a child. Some babies start sucking their thumbs or fingers even before they’re even born. While a toddler sucking their thumb may seem harmless, persistent thumb sucking can have consequences for dental health.
Children typically stop thumb sucking on their own usually before they are four years old. However, frequent thumb sucking can negatively change the way growing jaws and teeth develop.
Frequent thumb or finger pressure behind the teeth can cause the upper teeth to move outward and the lower teeth to move inward. This creates misaligned teeth that can make speaking, biting, chewing, and normal jaw movement difficult.
Fortunately, pediatric dentists have an array of tools to help parents stop habitual thumb sucking in children older than three-years-old. During an office visit, the dentist will thoroughly examine teeth, take x-rays, and perform any needed tests. He or she can then determine if a thumb or finger habit appliance would be beneficial. Quitting the habit of sucking fingers is just like any other type of habit. It can be very difficult to stop. If your child is three years old and still sucking their thumb, come in to see us for some help in getting your child to quit their thumb sucking habit. We can make them a uniquely formed dental appliance that is placed in the child’s mouth that keeps the tongue from touching the gums behind their teeth.
A thumb/finger appliance is a custom-fitted wire guard that is worn to prevent wayward digits from touching the gums behind the front teeth. Whether it’s implanted or removable, this device keeps children from placing pressure on this area and takes the joy out of thumb sucking. Many children stop trying to suck their thumbs or fingers after wearing such an appliance for a few weeks and are back on the path toward healthier dental development.