Atlanta Orthodontic Specialists Treatments


dentist and patient at AOS

Correcting bad habits for brighter smiles!

At Atlanta Orthodontic Specialists, we’ve helped countless numbers of Atlanta children overcome bad habits such as thumb-sucking and tongue thrusting in the past 40 years. Now, we’re helping their own children do the same, for generations of happy patients and beautiful smiles!

How does a habit appliance work?

A habit appliance is a painless and drama-free way to finally rid your child of behaviors that can adversely affect their oral development – such as thumb sucking and tongue thrusting. Though these behaviors are common in very young children, if they continue past the first few years of life, they can cause an improper bite.

The habit appliance – chosen specifically to address your child’s unique situation, age and growth – will be temporarily secured into your child’s mouth and affixed to their teeth so it doesn’t come out and get lost. It does not change the shape of your child’s mouth or teeth. The habit appliance’s job is to make the act of tongue thrusting or thumb sucking slightly uncomfortable and more difficult, which subtly discourages your child from continuing with the behavior.

Does wearing a habit appliance hurt?

Not at all. Though there may be an adjustment period, a habit appliance is completely painless. The only time your child will even feel the appliance is when their tongue, thumb or fingers rub against it.

How long will my child wear a habit appliance?

How long your child will wear their habit appliance is really dependent upon the child. Some parents see a difference in their child in only a few days. On average, most children wear a habit appliance for around a month, though some may need longer treatment.

How thumb-sucking affects your child’s growing mouth

Anything that consistently puts pressure on your child’s newly emerged teeth and growing palate can cause bite issues – including thumb sucking and pacifier use.

Most children stop using pacifiers at about a year old, but when you choose to take the pacifier from your child is up to you. Most children grow out of thumb sucking between the ages of 2 and 4. But for children who use pacifiers or suck their thumbs later into their formative years, that additional pressure and repeated action can cause several unwanted changes to the skeletal growth of the mouth, potentially causing:

  • Open bite – when the top and bottom teeth don’t meet when the mouth is closed.
  • Protruding front teeth
  • Crowded lower teeth
  • Overbite
  • Palate constriction
tongue crib

We use a tongue crib to prevent thumb sucking

Tongue thrusting

Tongue thrusting is when a child pushes their tongue through the spaces between their front teeth while speaking, swallowing and sometimes even at rest. Tongue thrusting is common in babies who are breast or bottle feeding, and they usually grow out naturally as they learn to swallow more effectively.

For some children, the habit continues longer, putting continuous, repeated pressure on the growing mouth that can lead to:

  • Open bite
  • Protruding front teeth
  • Speech issues
  • Breathing and sleep disturbances
tongue guard

We use a tongue guard to prevent tongue thrusting

Want to protect your child’s gorgeous smile?

Contact us to schedule your habit appliance consult today.

We’ll be happy to walk you through your options and help you choose the right treatment for your child.

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