Thumb & Finger Appliances

Quality Care From Your Waterford Lakes Orthodontics

Little boy sucking his thumb

As an East Orlando family orthodontist, Dr. Ross Taddeo provides children, teenagers, and adults with comprehensive orthodontic care that’s specifically tailored to meet each of his patient’s unique orthodontic needs. Many of the children we see at our office require orthodontic treatment due to thumb or finger sucking habits that continue once the primary teeth have begun to emerge. While thumb or finger sucking, along with pacifier use is perfectly acceptable for infants, these habits can negatively affect your child’s teeth and jaws if they continue into the toddler years as the pressure and sucking motion can start to make undesirable changes to the mouth and teeth.

Negative Effects Of A Thumb Or Finger Sucking Habit

If a thumb or finger sucking habit persists past the age of four, it can result in the upper front teeth extending out over the lower ones, moving the lower front teeth back and inward. It can also hold back the natural growth of the lower jaw while causing the upper jaw to thrust forward. This can result in misalignment of the teeth, an anterior open bite (when the front teeth fail to close together), the collapse of the upper jaw causing a crossbite or other problems. That’s why it’s imperative to stop a thumb or finger sucking habit as early as possible before this type of damage can occur.

Tips for Breaking A Thumb Or Finger Sucking Habit

While most children will stop a thumb or finger sucking habit on their own between the ages of two and four, some children continue the habit into the toddler years, putting their oral health at risk. To help discourage a thumb or finger sucking habit in your young child, you can:

  • Try a pacifier if your child is an infant: While long-term pacifier use can cause damage to the teeth and jaws, it’s much easier to control a pacifier than a thumb or finger when it comes to phasing the habit out.
  • Offer encouragement & praise: If your child is old enough to understand, encourage him or her to stop the habit and give him/ her praise when he/she tries to stop.
  • Spend some quality time with your child at bedtime: If your child tends to only suck his or her thumb or finger at bedtime, spend time with your child at night doing something he or she enjoys like reading a book together or telling stories. This can provide your child with the comfort and security he/she needs to fall asleep without sucking a thumb or finger.
  • Establish a chart and reward system: You can set up a chart and reward system to track your child’s progress for quitting. Keep the system fun & simple and offer rewards your child will want like a trip to his or her favorite park when he/she doesn’t suck his/her thumb for a set number of days.
  • Use a bandage, sock or glove: By placing a simple bandage, sock or glove on the preferred hand at bedtime, your child will be reminded not to suck his or her thumb.
  • Be positive: Do not nag or criticize your child for sucking his or her thumb or finger as doing so cause more anxiety to make the habit harder to break. Instead, use positive language to help your child break the habit.

How Your Orlando Orthodontist Can Help

If your child is still sucking his or her thumb past the age of three and you’ve been unable to help your child break the habit, it’s time for your child to visit our office! We may recommend treating your child with a “habit appliance” such as a fixed palatal crib or a removable device that’s worn only at night.

A retainer (a removable plastic appliance that fits the roof of the mouth) may be enough to stop the habit. This appliance changes the feeling of having the thumb or finger in the mouth. If your child’s habit is more tenacious, Dr. Taddeo may recommend a fixed palatal crib that is worn permanently until the habit is broken.

A fixed palatal crib is a small metal appliance that is worn inside the mouth and which attaches to the upper teeth. The semicircular wires of a palatal crib are designed to keep the thumb or finger from touching the gums behind the front teeth. This takes all the enjoyment out of a thumb or finger sucking habit, which can help your child quickly break his or her sucking habit.

Contact Your Orlando Family Orthodontist

At Dr. Ross Taddeo Orthodontics, we’ve successfully helped many children break thumb and finger sucking habits and we can help your child too! Simply request an appointment with us today. During your visit, we will provide your child with a thorough exam followed by a discussion with you concerning our recommended treatment which may include a thumb & finger appliance. We’ve worked hard to create a relaxing and welcoming office environment that helps our youngest patients feel at ease while spending time with us! We look forward to seeing you and your child soon!

Dr. Ross Taddeo Orthodontics

  • Dr. Ross Taddeo Orthodontics - 1561 S. Alafaya Trail, Suite 100, Orlando, FL 32828 Phone: 407-482-3700

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