Habit Appliance Therapy | The Woodlands & Montgomery

Prevent Overbites &
Other Misalignments

Habit appliance therapy from Manning Orthodontics can help stop habits and practices—such as thumb sucking or tongue thrusting—before they cause long-term bite and jaw issues for your child.

What Are Thumb & Finger Appliances?

In most children, thumb sucking stops on its own between the ages of two and four years. But if the practice persists after the adult teeth have erupted, it can drastically change the growth patterns of their jaw and cause significant misalignment of their teeth.

For example, thumb sucking can result in the upper front teeth flaring out and the lower ones moving back and inward, holding back the growth of the lower jaw while causing the upper jaw to be thrust forward.

Thumb or finger sucking can also:

  • Cause an anterior open bite (where the front teeth fail to close together)
  • Collapse the shape of the upper arch, thereby causing a crossbite or other problems

Controlling Thumb Sucking or Finger Sucking

Like many potentially harmful behavior patterns, thumb-sucking and finger-sucking can be difficult habits to break.

If your child has a thumb- or finger-sucking habit that has persisted past the age of five—and you’ve been unable to tame it—it may be time for you to visit our The Woodlands or Montgomery office. We’ll consider treating your child with a habit appliance to assist in breaking the habit.

the woodlands orthodontist

How It Works

A thumb habit appliance—such as a palatal crib—is designed to stop your child from sucking their thumb. The semicircular wires of a palatal crib keep your child’s thumb or finger from touching the gums behind their front teeth.

Simply preventing this contact seems to take all the enjoyment away from the thumb-sucking habit—and without that pleasurable feedback, a child has no reason to continue the behavior.

In fact, the device is often successful the first day it’s worn.

What to Expect

After Dr. Manning evaluates your child’s teeth and bite, she’ll make a custom appliance using an impression of their teeth. After a dental lab uses this impression to fabricate the fixed appliance, Dr. Manning will schedule an appointment where she will install the appliance.

Typically, the habit-breaking appliance works the first night but is left in place for 6 – 9 months to ensure the habit is fully corrected before Dr. Manning removes the appliance.

How to Prevent Tongue Thrusting

While thumb-sucking is one of the most common habits in young children, some kids also suffer from tongue thrusting.

Like thumb sucking, tongue thrusting is a normal behavioral pattern in young children. It’s actually part of the natural infantile swallowing pattern, which will normally change on its own—by the age of six, in most children.

If the pattern doesn’t change, however, it can lead to problems similar to those caused by thumb sucking. Fortunately, this problem can be successfully treated with a preventative tongue thrust habit appliance that’s very similar to a fixed palatal crib.

Habit Appliance Therapy FAQs

Persistent thumb-sucking can end up damaging your child’s teeth. By investing in habit appliances for children, you can break this habit and protect your child’s smile.

To help you learn more about this tool, we’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions about habit appliance therapy below.