Why: When a habit is formed, it can be hard to break. Many people struggle with oral habits like thumb sucking or tongue thrusting that can affect dental health and tooth alignment/bite relationship. A habit appliance is a 3D metal printed custom metal crib or gate that is carefully placed behind the front teeth on the roof of the mouth and glued onto the molars. The tongue crib will block the tongue or finger from coming into contact with the back of the front teeth and palate, which takes away the enjoyment. Since most children resort to these habits subconsciously when they’re tired or upset, it also serves as a reminder because they feel the appliance in their mouth. The main goal of a habit appliance is to not only break such a habit that affects the positioning of the teeth but to prevent an open bite or protruding teeth from developing as a result of the forces placed on the teeth from the habit.
What to Expect: A habit-breaking appliance for kids is completely painless to get put on and it doesn’t hurt to wear. However, your child’s tongue will hit against it until their tongue gets used to sharing space with the appliance. This can lead to some tongue soreness and speech issues. Don’t worry; both will go away quickly. Since kids often use thumb sucking, in particular, to soothe themselves, when they first get a habit-breaking appliance, they can be a little cranky for a few days and may have trouble sleeping.
How Long: Usually the habit stops as soon as the first couple of days. However, more severe habits can take some time– as long as a few months– to break. Once both you and Dr. Hammer are confident that the habit has been stopped, the appliance is carefully removed.