22 August 2014

Thumb sucking habits and orthodontics!

Thumb sucking habits and orthodontics are often related to one another, especially here at Moshiri Orthodontics in St. Louis.

thumb sucking habit

Every so often, we will have a young patient come to our office for an initial orthodontic consultation.  As we sit to discuss the reason for the visit, a parent will mention that there is a concern about spacing……..about teeth that stick out or that the front permanent (adult) teeth are not coming in.  The parent will also talk about the patient’s health history and also mention that he/she has a current thumb sucking habit.

Of course, the concern about the teeth something that needs to be addressed.  However, before starting any orthodontic therapy, Drs. Farhad and Mazyar Moshiri first want to address the thumb (or finger) sucking habit.  Why?  If you do not eliminate the habit, then any orthodontic or orthopedic correction does not have a great chance for success.  Also, future braces or Invisalign treatment will be a more difficult situation.

When Drs. Moshiri first meet with that new patient, their goal is to use positive reinforcement and education as tools to help the patient understand that THEY are in control.  The patient is the one who will need to decide to stop the behavior.  More importantly, Drs. Moshiri discuss with the patient WHY stopping the habit is so important.  We show the patient how the thumb/finger is affecting the upper and lower arches, preventing teeth from erupting properly and changing the direction of the teeth.  Even for younger patients, education is an important philosophy at Moshiri Orthodontics in St. Louis, Missouri.  Knowing the cause and effect of behaviors play a huge part in orthodontics.

Of course, you have probably heard about “thumb cribs” or “thumb habit appliances” that can be placed on the top arch to prevent the thumb/finger from fitting in the mouth so the patient can enjoy their thumb sucking habit.  We do use habit appliance, if needed.  However, we have found great success when the doctors have that “one on one” conversation with the patient and use positive reinforcement to encourage the patient’s to make that decision themselves.

Once the habit has ceased, then moving forward with any orthodontic or orthopedic therapy has a much greater success rate.  More importantly, we have a patient who is invested in their treatment plan and can be proud of their wonderful results.

Thumb or finger sucking habits can be very difficult to break and can be a very emotional experience for both the parent and the child.  Addressing the habit early on and using positive reinforcement can go a long way towards future success.

So before you get frustrated with your little thumb sucker, remember that there is help and support for both you and your child.  We are always here to help.  For more information on the effects of a thumb or finger sucking habit on your child’s mouth or to schedule a consultation, visit us at moshtransfer.wpengine.com.


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