Oral Habit-Breaking Appliances for Kids

Oral habits like thumb-sucking and using a pacifier are completely normal in infants. As the child grows up, these habits go away on their own.

Pediatric Dentistry

You can take away the pacifiers when your baby is one year of age. And as for thumb or finger sucking, most kids naturally leave these oral habits between the age of two to three years. And so, a baby sucking their thumb or fingers is nothing to worry about.

However, if your child is over four years of age and still cannot give up their habit of thumb sucking, it can be a reason to be concerned about. This is because if these habits continue, they can cause dental issues, affect their skeletal and jaw development, and can also cause problems like open bites.

So, if your kid doesn’t leave the oral habits on their own, it becomes necessary to make efforts to break these habits. And this is where oral habit-breaking appliances can come in handy. Thumb sucking and mouth-breathing causes and long term impacts should be known to parents as soon as its first observed in their children.

This article will walk you through the basics of oral habit-breaking appliances for children. We will also list down some excellent ones that will help your kid in giving up their oral habits like using pacifiers, tongue thrusting, or finger sucking. Read on!

What are Oral Habit-Breaking Appliances for Kids?

Oral habit-breaking appliances

Oral habit-breaking appliances are made of extremely thin metal wires and are placed inside the mouth of kids by Pediatric dentists. They are bonded with the molars and placed behind a child’s teeth so that they remain hidden when your kid talks or smiles. The process of placing these appliances is totally painless and they don’t interfere with their eating either.

Generally, these appliances come in two different types, including fixed oral habit-breaking appliances and removable oral habit-breaking appliances. These appliances come with a tongue crib that prevents your child’s tongue and fingers from coming in contact with the rear part of their front teeth. This takes away the enjoyable part of thumb or finger sucking and thus, the kid will leave the habit eventually.

Moreover, as soon as your child takes their thumb into their mouth, they will instantly feel the device. This serves as a reminder that they have to stop sucking their thumb.

Benefits of Oral Habit-Breaking Appliances

Oral habit-breaking appliances have several benefits for kids. Let’s have a quick look at some of them.

  • They help in getting rid of your child’s oral habits in a quick, effective, and painless way.
  • Most children suck their thumb and fingers when they are upset, stressed, anxious, or sleeping. It is an unconscious habit. Oral habit-breaking appliances help them in getting rid of these habits as they work even when your child is sleeping or stressed.

As soon as your child puts their finger in their mouth, they can feel these appliances and are thus reminded to remove their thumb from their mouth.

  • These appliances minimize the risk of dental problems like misalignment of teeth, poor teeth development, sore gums, etc which will have to be treated by Orthodontists later.
  • Oral habit-breaking appliances are placed inside the mouth in such a way that they remain invisible when your child eats, talks, and smiles.

Best Oral Habit-Breaking Appliances for Kids

There are different oral habit-breaking appliances available for different issues. Here is a list of some of the major ones.

Fixed Palatal Crib

This is an excellent appliance for breaking the habit of thumb sucking in children. Ideally, your child should give up their habit of thumb sucking when they reach the age of three to four years. However, if their habit continues even after that, you can consider using a fixed palatal crib. Dental treatments with this appliance comes with a set of thin metal bars or rings. It is placed behind the upper front teeth and is tied to the molars. It is one of the best appliances to discourage thumb or finger sucking.

Oral Screen

An oral screen is used for breaking the habit of mouth breathing by Pediatric dentists. Most kids develop the habit of breathing through their mouth instead of the nose. This can lead to various long-term complications later on. And so, it is important to break this habit early on.

An oral screen directs the air away from your kid’s oral cavity and motivates your kid to breathe from their nose.

Spiky Tongue Crib

A spiky tongue crib is used to take care of the habit of excessive tongue thrusting. The appliance is placed behind your child’s upper front teeth. It helps your kid in overcoming their tongue thrusting habit within four to six months.

Lip Bumper

A lip bumper is an excellent oral habit-breaking device for kids. It is a U-shaped wire that encircles your kid’s lower jaw. It is meant to create more space for tooth alignment and also correct the problems caused by excessive thumb sucking. Additionally, a lip bumper also helps in effectively breaking the habit of thumb or finger sucking when given by an Orthodontist.

Bluegrass appliance

Bluegrass is one of the most comfortable oral habit-breaking devices for kids. It is easiest for kids to tolerate it and they become accustomed to it within a few days.

The bluegrass appliance is specially designed by dentists to help your kid in breaking their habit of finger sucking. The appliance contains a thin wire and a roller that is placed at the roof of your child’s mouth. Instead of sucking their thumb, your child can turn the roller in their mouth. This gives them an alternative to thumb sucking and eventually, they are able to give up this habit.

The Bottom Line

So that was all about oral habit-breaking appliances for kids. When your kids start wearing an oral habit-breaking appliance, they will feel slightly uncomfortable initially.

They might remain cranky or upset during the few initial days. However, they will soon be accustomed to it and so, there is no reason for you to worry about these appliances. They are totally safe and painless. Just remember to be extra gentle with your child during this phase and they will be able to change their behavior soon!

We also recommend that you consult with your child’s pediatric dentist before selecting an oral habit-breaking appliance for them. The dentist would be able to guide you in the right way, help your kid throughout the process, and ensure the well-being of your child’s oral health.

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