Thumb Sucking Appliances

Thumb sucking appliances are used to break thumb-sucking or pacifier habits in children and adults.

Thumb/Habit Appliances

A thumb sucking appliance prevents placement of the thumb into the mouth in a comfortable position. It’s used to break thumb-sucking habits with children, and even, occasionally with adults.

Thumb sucking appliances are built custom for your mouth so each appliance requires a consultation by your dentist before the appliance can be built. Once the appliance is inserted into the mouth, the thumb sucking habit is broken over time. While thumb sucking is completely normal and safe for children under the age of 4, you will want to start breaking the habit around the age of 4.

A little girl sucking her thumb
  • When should a thumb sucking appliance be used?

    A thumb sucking appliance should be used when the habit persists past age 4-5. Beyond this age, thumb-sucking can cause damage to developing skeletal structures and teeth.

  • How is a thumb sucking appliance made?

    A thumb sucking appliance is made in four steps:

    First, your child is examined by your dental provider and a prescription for a thumb sucking or habit appliance is created.

    Second, an impression or digital scan of your child’s mouth is taken so the appliance can be custom made.

    Third, a dental lab will fabricate and build the appliance.

    Fourth, your dental provider will schedule a time to provide you with the appliance. Thumb sucking appliances can be permanent or removable so the length of this visit is determined by the type of thumb sucking appliance your dentist prescribes.

  • What types of thumb sucking devices are available?

    Thumb sucking appliances can come as removable appliances or permanent appliances.

    Removable habit correction appliances or thumb sucking appliances can be taken in and out of the mouth and are only effective if worn as prescribed.

    Fixed appliances cannot be removed so these are often used for children who are having a harder time breaking the thumb sucking habit. Since they cannot be removed, they may cause difficulty adjusting to the device when it is first provided.

  • What happens when a child sucks their thumb?

    When a child sucks their thumb for an extended period of time, it can cause a number of dental problems. Here are some of the ways thumb-sucking can affect a child’s teeth:

    Misalignment: Prolonged thumb-sucking can cause misalignment of the teeth, leading to an overbite, underbite, or crossbite.

    Open bite: Thumb-sucking can also cause an open bite, where the front teeth don’t meet properly, leaving a gap when the child bites down.

    Narrowing of the palate: The constant pressure of thumb-sucking can cause the palate (roof of the mouth) to narrow, which can affect the child’s speech and make it difficult for permanent teeth to grow in properly.

    Speech problems: Thumb-sucking can also lead to speech problems such as lisping, stuttering, or difficulty pronouncing certain sounds.

    In general, the longer a child sucks their thumb, the more likely they are to experience dental problems. That’s why it’s important to encourage children to stop thumb-sucking by the time they reach age 4-5, before any permanent damage is done to their teeth and jaw.

A Kid-Friendly Dental Experience

We specialize in providing first-class dental care to children of all ages. What’s more, we are parents too! Therefore, we understand the busy lives of families and have created an experience to make your dental visits simpler. Learn more about our services or schedule an appointment today.

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Salem, MA 01970
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