Many of the following childhood habits have to be intervened carefully. Most of them are subconscious. The child have a sense of security when they perform these acts (habits).
They are more secure with the thumb or finger in the mouth. These habits MUST not be corrected by punishment. They should not be intervened too early in life too (less than 4 years in general). The right time for the correction can be discussed with your pediatric dentist.
- Thumb sucking/Finger sucking - Children with finger or thumb sucking habits should be treated between 4.5 to 6.5 years of age to prevent any damage to the permanent teeth. Different methods of managing these habits can be discussed with your Pediatric Dentist to identify the appropriate one which will suit your and your child’s clinical situation.
- Mouth breathing - This is diagnosed when the child sleeps with the mouth open. Appropriate management strategies are discussed with your Pediatric Dentist. An ENT surgeon’s opinion may be taken before management of this entity.
- Night Grinding - Grinding the teeth in the night is a common childhood habit. Correcting them at an appropriate time will prevent damage to the teeth. Soft splints are usually given for these children to be worn in the night time to prevent damage to the teeth surfaces because of excessive biting force exerted during grinding.
- Tongue thrusting - Continuous tongue thrusting can bring the permanent teeth forward. It needs correction with Habit breaking appliance to prevent the front teeth from protruding forward.
- Lip biting and Nail biting - Lip biting and nail biting habit can be intervened with bitter tasting solutions and Lip bumpers at an appropriate time in consultation with your pediatric dentist.
Habit Intervention - Faqs
What are the common habits in children?
Thumb sucking, finger sucking, tongue thrusting, mouth breathing, lip biting and nail biting.
When should we intervene these habits in children?
A child above 5 years and before eruption of the permanent front teeth
How to stop these habits?
For every habit, there are different methods to break the habit. Initially, counselling to stop the habit is given to the child. Later, a fixed habit breaking appliance is given to permanently stop the habit.
How long will it take to stop the habit?
It will take minimum of 4 – 12 weeks for the child to stop the habit
Do these habits affect the teeth?
Yes. They cause the teeth to flare up and causes alignment problem in children.
Will the effect on teeth reduce when the habit is stopped?
Yes. Once the habit is corrected, the affected teeth will come back to its normal position within 6 months to 1 year.
Will the habit breaking appliance cause any trouble to the child?
No. The child will find it difficult for a day or two. Later the child will get used to it. A mild difficulty in speech will be there for a week. The child will be asked to practise some exercises for the tongue to get used to the appliance. The child will be advised to avoid eating very hard and sticky food items.
Will the habit come again after the treatment?
No. Generally the habit does not appear again. But very rarely, children might develop any other oral habit.