Habit Breaking Appliance

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Habit Breaking Appliance is removable or fixed appliance used to stop certain repeated harmful habits in children. It is normal for children to exhibit oral habits like thumb or finger sucking, tongue thrusting or lip biting while growing up. However, if these habits persist beyond the age of four, it can cause severe implications in future.

Continuation of such habits can affect the normal breathing pattern, jaw development and development of normal occlusion. This is exactly where habit breaking appliance comes into role. These appliances stop the habit when everything else has failed. Habit breaking appliances prevent the children to accidently fall back into the habit during day or night time. They help to break the habit and decrease the chances of developing a malocclusion.

Following are some of the commonly observed habits in children:
1) Thumb/Finger Sucking: It is the habit of placing thumb or fingers at varying depths in the mouth. This habit is considered as normal up to 3 to 4 years of age. Persistence of this habit beyond this age may cause malocclusion and poor jaw development. It may cause proclination of the front two upper teeth due to continuous pressure exerted by the thumb or finger. In order to prevent the malocclusion caused by digit sucking, orthodontic appliances like habit crib and bluegrass appliance are used. These appliances are designed to block the thumb and thereby forbid the patient from sucking it.

2) Tongue thrusting: It is the habit in which the tongue makes contact with anterior teeth during swallowing. Constant pressure exerted by tongue thrusting can lead to proclination of the anterior teeth which eventually results in an anterior open bite. In cases of lateral tongue thrust, there are chances of developing a posterior open bite or crossbite. This habit can be intercepted by using appliances like fixed or removable cribs and myofunctional bead, which is used to prevent tongue thrusting habit and helps in promoting proper tongue posture.

3) Mouth Breathing: It is the habit of breathing through the mouth instead of nose. Chronic mouth breathing can cause malocclusion and can result in long, narrow faces and may result in obstructive sleep apnea in later stage. Orthodontic appliances like vestibular screen are used to curb this habit.

4) Lip Biting: It is the habit of biting the lower lip. This often exerts pressure on the lower front teeth, which results in proclined upper teeth and retroclined lower teeth. Habit of biting lower lip can be intercepted using lip bumper which keeps the lip away from the lower teeth, thereby preventing the child to bite his or her own lip.

5) Bruxism: It is the habit of involuntary clenching or gnashing of the teeth. It can either occur when person is awake (awake bruxism) or during the sleep (sleep bruxism). Occasional grinding of teeth is not harmful, but the problem arises when this habit becomes repetitive. Constant grinding of teeth can cause number of problems like pain in jaw ,neck or face, tooth pain or sensitivity, mild headache and wearing away of biting surfaces of the teeth. This habit can be curbed using mouth guards and mouth splints, which are specially customised according to each patient and avoid grinding of the teeth.

It is always advisable to address the issue at the right time before it transforms into a bigger problem. So if your child shows any of these habits beyond a certain age, then it is imperative to visit us and get a customised habit appliance for your child.

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