Thumb sucking or thumb sucking disorder is a condition where a child sucks their thumb or fingers excessively. It can cause a variety of dental problems. Thumb sucking can lead to crooked teeth, misalignment, and bite problems.
Thumb habit appliances are removable oral appliances that can be worn to correct thumb-sucking habits. These devices can help to prevent new thumb-sucking and finger-sucking habits from forming as well. A dentist will design the appliance to fit comfortably in the child’s mouth during normal function so that the child will not feel as if he or she is wearing the device.
How is it used?
The appliance can typically be worn during the day and removed for bedtime. In some cases, it may be recommended to wear the thumb habit until the permanent teeth come in around the age of six to nine months. Once the baby’s teeth start to come in better, a dentist may recommend an orthodontic device that is designed to treat thumb-sucking and tooth alignment issues more effectively than a thumb habit appliance can provide.
What are the benefits of a thumb habit appliance?
Thumb appliances are used to prevent thumb sucking that may lead to malocclusions or misaligned teeth. This type of appliance is often recommended for children between the ages of 2 and 6 or for older children, adolescents, and adults who have severe thumb-sucking habits. The alternatives are lifestyle changes like avoiding triggers that may encourage the behavior. People may try things like putting the child to bed with the pacifier out of reach or encouraging chewing gum to keep their mouths busy.
Thumb appliances provide a solution to people who cannot break the habit on their own by reminding them to stop sucking their thumbs. They can help correct or prevent the symptoms of overbites or underbites. If the appliance becomes less effective, it may need to be adjusted or replaced. However, it can be very effective in preventing future orthodontic problems caused by thumb sucking.
How do thumb habit appliances work?
Thumb habits don’t move teeth in the same way that braces do, so they must be worn for much longer periods of time to be effective. They work by guiding and reshaping the thumb into a correct position over the rest of the fingers. Over time, your thumb will get used to the new position and hold it there on its own.
The thumb brace is custom-made to fit your thumb exactly based on your measurements. A mold of your thumb is then cast to create a flexible plastic insert that fits snugly around the base of the thumb. This removable insert is often adjusted as needed to hold the thumb in its new position firmly.
Once you’ve achieved your desired result, you’ll need to wear the device only during designated waking hours to keep it from shifting back to its pre-braced position. It’s important to remember that when you first begin treatment, you will need to be diligent about wearing the thumb brace as instructed by your orthodontist or dentist.
To find out more about the dental services offered at our dental practice, call (801)- 269-0303 or schedule an online consultation. You can also visit us at 155 E 13800 S Ste F4, Draper, UT, Draper 84020.