Is your child still sucking his or her thumb? Westwalk Orthodontic Group is here to help.
Over time, habits can gradually become detrimental to overall jaw development and negatively affect the bite and eruption of permanent teeth. Below, we discuss various habits we commonly see in our Norwalk and Westport orthodontic offices and how we go about rectifying them.
The first step to stop any habit is to set up a reward system, where the child is rewarded when her or she accomplishes the goal of avoiding the habit. Typically, we recommend that the patient receives a reward after one day, followed by one week, two weeks, and one month.
Each time, the reward gets bigger, with the one-month reward being the grande finale, which gives your son or daughter something to really work toward. We typically see a high success rate using this reward system.
However, if the reward system is unsuccessful, then we will likely lean toward making a habit breaker in our Norwalk or Westport office. Just as it sounds, a habit breaker is an orthodontic appliance that essentially helps your little one stop the unfavorable habit.
Sucking your thumb
Prolonged thumb sucking can lead to protrusion of the upper front teeth and typically a narrow upper jaw. Stopping the habit can often lead to the upper front teeth moving back slightly by themselves, reducing the protrusion.
If the reward system described above does not yield favorable results, we can fabricate a habit breaker to help prevent the patient from thumb sucking. The habit breaker is a small metal crib in the front part of the roof of the mouth which keeps the patient from resting his or her thumb on the roof of the mouth.
In our Westport and Norwalk offices, our success rate with this type of appliance has been high.
Tongue-thrust habit breaker
In patients that use a proper swallowing technique, a suction is created by placing the tongue on the roof of the mouth directly behind the upper incisors. However, some patients swallow improperly, and create a suction by placing their tongue between their upper and lower front teeth.
This unfavorable swallow technique leads to a vertical opening between the upper and lower front teeth, called an “anterior open bite.” With an anterior open bite, function is compromised because the upper and lower front teeth do not touch, which makes it difficult to create a shearing force.
A tongue-thrust habit breaker consists of a small metal crib behind the lower front teeth. This crib repositions the tongue into the proper position during each swallow. Instead of being positioned between the upper and lower teeth, the tongue goes to the front part of the palate behind the upper incisors, which allows a functional swallow.
Our orthodontic practice has locations in Norwalk and Westport, and we are here to help if you or one of your kids has a thumb-sucking or tongue-thrust habit.