Habit Reversal Appliances and Treatment
Old habits die hard. Some, such as thumb sucking and tongue thrusting, can be especially detrimental to the dental health of children. At Dr. Angela Wandera & Associates, we can prevent these issues with specially designed appliances to help break habits and let smiles shine. These devices make it uncomfortable for children to put their thumbs or fingers into their mouths, removing the pleasure associated with these activities. Over time, the child will do it less and less, after which they will be successfully freed of the addiction.
What is a Habit Appliance?
A habit appliance is a metallic medical device that is placed behind the front teeth on the upper gums and is held in place by two braces placed on the upper molars. By discouraging certain harmful habits, they defend against the lower and upper teeth being pushed into undesired positions through repetitive actions. So their purpose is twofold: they work to prevent unfavorable positioning of the teeth, while also helping to break the habit that causes it in the first place.
Thumb and finger sucking are natural activities for children that can start as early as when they are in the womb. However, if these habits are not broken by age 3-4, they can have a real detrimental effect on development. By age 5-6 the child will usually want to stop on their own, but may need a little help with the gentle reminder that an oral health appliance can provide. Around age 6 or older is when a habit device is usually placed. Tongue thrusting has a similar timeline for treatment. This is because a child's face and jaw develop along a specific schedule, and any habits that have not been broken by a certain age will require medical help and attention before it is too late to address the issue
How is a Habit Appliance Applied?
When your child comes in for their dental habit appointment, the device will be positioned on the roof of their mouth. This fixed appliance will be cemented to the child's back teeth with anchor bands to hold it in place. The actual design of the device varies, as there are several variations depending on your child's needs. All your child needs to do is to wear the device and come into our office about once a month to monitor their progress. Be sure to take stock of daily progress at home and make sure to encourage and maybe reward your child for all of their hard work if needed.
Results are quick. Children and adults can see changes from a habit appliance in just a few days. Finger sucking and tongue thrusting activities decrease over time but can take up to several months to disappear in those with more severe issues. You will work with your dentist to decide when the time is right to remove the habit device. If someone you know is having issues with thumb sucking or tongue thrusting, please don't hesitate to give our office a call at 952-941-7393 or email to schedule a consultation today!