It’s common for infants and toddlers to suck their thumbs or use pacifiers, but over time, these habits can negatively affect their teeth and gums. The same goes for older children and teenagers who bite their fingernails or chew on ice. At Flanders Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics in Flanders, New Jersey, the team offers habit breaking appliances and regularly works with patients to prevent these problems from getting worse. To book your appointment, call the office or click the online booking tool today.
Not all children who suck their thumb or use a pacifier damage their teeth. However, if your child sucks aggressively or regularly moves their hand around in their mouth, their more likely to experience misaligned teeth, damage to their jaw, and physical changes to the roof of their mouth.
Studies suggest that vigorous thumb sucking also increases your child’s risk of:
Children who suck their thumbs are also more likely to experience pain or sensitivity that affects the roof of their mouth.
Habit breaking appliances are a type of orthodontic appliance designed to help your child prevent habits like thumb sucking and tongue thrusting. At Flanders Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics, the team typically recommends an appliance known as a tongue crib.
Tongue cribs look similar to a retainer. However, instead of straightening your child’s teeth, a tongue crib holds your child’s tongue in place. Tongue cribs feature two metal rings that attach to the back molars. A wire extends from each ring and connects to a wire fence or cage that sits at the front of the mouth behind your child’s lower front teeth.
Once placed, a tongue crib helps your child remember not to suck their thumb or fingers. It also prevents them from pushing their tongue up against their teeth and gums.
The Academy of General Dentistry says children, adolescents, and adults who bite their fingernails are also more likely to experience chips, cracks, and wear-and-tear damage.
If your child wears braces or a retainer, nail-biting also increases their risk of root resorption, a painful condition that leads to increased sensitivity.
There’s also evidence that suggests children and teens who bite their nails are more likely to grind their teeth, which over time may cause chronic facial pain and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, as well as damage to their teeth, or jaw.
To determine if your child can benefit from a habit breaking appliance, their Flanders Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics dentist performs an oral exam, reviews their medical history, and asks a series of questions about their habits and your concerns.
Based on this information, the dentist can determine whether or not your child is a good candidate for a tongue crib or another appliance.
Don’t let bad habits keep your child from achieving a happy, healthy smile. Make an appointment today for a habit breaking appliance by calling Flanders Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics, or click the online booking tool.