Robert A Foster, Jr
Family and Cosmetic Dentistry
1230 Johnson Ferry Place
Marietta, GA 30068
Thumb/Finger Sucking and Tongue Thrust Correction
Many young patients have oral habits that can be harmful to the bite or alignment of teeth. The two most common are a thumb or finger habit and a tongue-thrusting habit. If a thumb is constantly in the mouth and sucked on with some force, the upper front teeth will be raised, spaced, and flared. The lower teeth will be tipped back and crowded and the back teeth will become narrow on top causing a crossbite. If the tongue is thrust forward or just postured forward against the front teeth, both the upper and lower teeth can be spaced and flared and pushed apart so no bite exists in the front of the mouth (openbite).
The habit appliances are usually fixed or cemented on the upper first permanent molars. Bands on these molars have wires soldered to them that run across the roof of the mouth near the back of the upper front teeth. The thumb appliance has a wire screen that prevents the thumb or finger from resting on the roof of the mouth where it can create suction and feel good. If the "pleasure" of the habit is gone, it can be easily stopped. The tongue appliance has protrusions that will poke the tongue when it comes forward and this directs the tip of the tongue up to the roof of the mouth where it is supposed to be in resting and swallowing. The tongue may be sore the first day but after that, the patient avoids the spurs and keeps the tongue in the ideal place.
Habit appliances need no adjustments and have no active force on the teeth. In many cases, the teeth will start to get straighter on their own since the tongue or thumb is no longer involved. Braces are still needed at some point to totally recover from the harmful effects of the habit. The habit appliances are left in place for six months to make sure the habit is gone and then removed with no retainer.
If you think your child has either of these habits, don’t delay. Call us today for an appointment.