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Habit Appliance

A long-term habit such as sucking on a finger or thumb can be difficult to break. These habits past the age of 3 can have long term effects on the positioning of the teeth and surrounding bone. The purpose of the Habit Appliance is to help break a thumb or finger habit. It will, however, not prevent placement of the thumb or finger into the mouth, but it will not feel as comfortable. The appliance will work if you want to stop this habit and if parents help reinforce the treatment.

Home Instructions

  • Please keep a diary/calendar of how many days you have gone without using your finger or thumb and bring this list to each visit. You may offer rewards to the child each week that goes by, increasing the reward value until the habit has stopped for one month. It takes one month to typically break a habit.
  • The Habit Appliance fits on the roof of your mouth. It may have a tongue bead or other attachment that lies just behind your front teeth. There will be anchor bands cemented to the child’s back teeth. The design may vary according to your individual needs.
  • You may have difficulty speaking at first, but as you practice (reading aloud, perhaps) it will become easier and easier.
  • Clean your appliance daily with your toothbrush after each meal and before bedtime. If your appliance has an acrylic button, it is necessary to either floss under it or rinse with a warm salt-water mixture (1 tsp. salt to 1/2 cup water).
  • Remember to avoid sticky candies such as starbursts and hard substances such as ice, to avoid loosening or breaking the appliance.
  • Do not play with your Habit Appliance with your fingers or pull it with your tongue since it can loosen or break the appliance.
  • Typically your child will be seen once a month to check on their process. The length of time wearing the appliance will be determined by your dentist and the severity of your child’s habit.

Go back to Pediatric Education


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