Habit Appliances

Habit Appliances

Dr. Wright and dental team member standing in hallway smiling at cameraWhat is a habit appliance?

Common childhood habits like thumb-sucking, tongue thrusting, or bottle use can lead to long-term oral health problems if they aren’t broken by the right age. There are a variety of opinions when it comes to what age is right to stop these kinds of habits, but general consensus agrees that if the child hasn’t broken the habit on their own by age three, it can lead to misalignment of their teeth. We can work with you and give you advice on how to help your child break these habits, but if behavioral modifications don’t work, we recommend considering a habit appliance. If a child keeps up these habits once their adult teeth come in, it usually leads to the need for extensive orthodontic treatment or even surgery. At Smile Wright Dental, we will create a custom-made habit appliance to protect your child’s teeth.

What are the types of habit appliances?

There are two types of habit appliances: removable and fixed. We typically recommend using a fixed habit appliance to ensure it stays in place until the habit is broken. A fixed habit appliance for thumb-sucking or tongue thrusting is a thin, metal wire that is bonded to your child’s back molars and goes behind the teeth. It is not visible when your child smiles and it does not interfere with eating. On most types of fixed habit appliances, there is a tongue crib that blocks the tongue, thumb, or fingers from pushing into the back of the front teeth and palate. This usually takes away the comfort children experience from their habit and reminds them when they are doing it because they will feel the habit appliance in their mouth.

Are habit appliances painful?

We take great care at Smile Wright Dental to make all of our procedures comfortable and relaxing for our young patients. The process of bonding a habit appliance to your child’s teeth is completely painless, and wearing one does not cause any pain. However, some children will experience short-lived irritation or soreness on their tongue as it hits against the new appliance in their mouth. It can lead to some temporary speech issues, but those will also be short-lived. Because the appliance is preventing them from a habit that brings them comfort, some parents report that their child is grouchy or has trouble sleeping for the first few days. Even with the minor inconveniences, we recommend habit appliances to protect your child’s teeth from long term damage.

If you want to learn more about how a habit appliance can help your child, contact Smile Wright Dental today!