Habit breakers do exactly what their name implies — they help patients break or stop a dysfunctional habit, like sucking thumbs or placing the tongue in between the front teeth.
Habit breakers are designed to create an uncomfortable environment and disrupt the wearer from placing the thumb into the palate.
Thumb sucking is a very common childhood habit with three quarters of infants sucking their thumb in their first year.
The majority of experts agree that a thumb sucker younger than 5 shouldn’t be pressured to stop. Most children will simply grow out of the habit. However, if it continues once your child starts school, it can have a negative effect on developing teeth and bite. If your child is still sucking his thumb or finger when their adult teeth start to erupt, it really is time to take action to break the habit.
Thumb sucking has the following effects on the mouth and teeth:
Habit breakers can be removable and fixed appliances, often the first attempt is to use a removable appliance to try and break the habit, followed by a fixed appliance if the habit continues. Your orthodontist will be able to recommend the best device.
Usually the habit stops within days, but the appliance remains in the mouth for approximately six months in order to make sure the practice has completely vanished.
It is worth the effort to break the habit as more than 60% of UK’s 10 year old digit suckers have very serious bite problems which can require lengthy and costly courses of orthodontic treatment.