Thumb Habit Appliance

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Thumb Habit Appliance


It’s quite likely that most of us sucked our thumbs at one time, but we probably grew out of it at a very early age. There is nothing seriously wrong with a child doing this, but if they do it too much and for too long, they can cause damage to the teeth. By the age of three most stop, but it is the ones that reach five or six who find that they have oral complications. It is both the teeth and bone that can be affected, and the orthodontic dentist will need to provide assistance.

The best way to do this will be with a thumb habit appliance. In case you are worried about what is going into the child’s mouth, it is not going to be so big that the thumb will not fit in the mouth. It is more the case that it will not feel as nice and when they do not get the same level of pleasure from it, they are less likely to continue.

With a tongue appliance, the item is placed into the roof of the mouth. Sometimes there will be an additional part known as a tongue bead, and this is placed just behind the front teeth. The dentist will provide one specifically for the child as it is not a case of one size fits all. Anchor bands will be placed over the back teeth and this will keep it in place. The child may find it a little difficult to talk to begin with, but the longer it is there and the more talking that takes place, the easier it will become. Before long the child will be fine talking with it in.


There is nothing out of the ordinary when it comes to looking after a thumb appliance and most things that need to be done will apply to a brace or another item that is placed in the mouth. It is important to:

  • Ensure that the child cleans their teeth and the appliance whenever they have eaten. A normal toothbrush can be used and there should also be a bedtime brush.
  • Some will be fitted with an acrylic button and if there is one, floss should be used to clean under it. If this proves to be difficult, then mix a teaspoon of salt into half a cup of water and clean it that way instead.
  • As with braces it is important to avoid food that is hard and could damage the device, or sticky and will be hard to remove.
  • The fingers and tongue should not be used to touch the Habit Appliance. This will either damage it or loosen it and there will have to be a visit to the orthodontist and this is going to be time consuming and could be costly.

There should be monthly appointments set up so that the dentist can check that things are going well. It is hard to say exactly how long the appliance will have to be used, but the longer the child sucks their thumb, the longer the process will be.

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