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Habit-Breaking Appliances

These specialized dental appliances can stop harmful oral habits to keep your child’s smile development on track.

Correcting Oral Habits

It’s normal and safe for babies to suck their thumb or fingers or use a pacifier during infancy. However, as kids get older, especially once the permanent teeth are ready to erupt, these habits and others, such as tongue thrust, can have a negative impact on the development of the teeth, jaw and face. That’s why our dentists offer guidance at your regular exams on how to help your child stop any oral habits that could be detrimental. However, if the habit persists, we also provide custom habit-breaking appliances in Greenville. These dental appliances are an effective way to eliminate the unwanted behavior and prevent the serious orthodontic problems the behavior can cause.

Benefits of
Habit-Breaking Appliances

Stops Habits When All Else Fails

The appliances help to break harmful oral habits when all else fails by either serving as a reminder or physically blocking the action.

Effective for Subconscious Habits

These dental appliances are great for stopping kids from subconsciously falling back into habits while sleeping or when they’re stressed or upset.

Decreases the Risk of Orthodontic Problems

Eliminating harmful oral habits decreases the risk of the issues with facial growth and teeth positioning the behaviors can cause.

What are Habit-Breaking Appliances?

There are several different types of habit-breaking appliances and they can be fixed or removable. At Oak Tree Pediatric Dentistry, we generally recommend a fixed appliance for thumb sucking and tongue thrust, because they’re the most effective and don’t depend on a child following the instructions for wearing it. The appliance usually stays in place for six to 12 months until the habit is broken.

Most types of habit-breaking appliances, such as a tongue crib, are made of wire and bonded to the back molars. Since they go behind the teeth, they’re not visible when your child smiles. The appliance prevents the finger or thumb from coming into contact with the roof of the mouth and makes suction impossible, taking away the enjoyment. A habit-breaking appliance for tongue thrust, or reverse swallowing, works in a similar way and stops the tongue from pushing between the front teeth when swallowing, while also encouraging a proper tongue resting position.

Habit-breaking appliances aren’t painful, but it does take some time for children to get used to having one in their mouth. Kids might be cranky for a day or two, because the appliance takes away one of their methods of soothing themselves. However, we promise, your child will acclimate to the appliance quickly and barely notice it’s there.

Habit Breaking Appliances


It’s estimated that 75 to 95% of infants suck their thumb in the first year of life.


Most kids stop thumb sucking or using a pacifier on their own between the ages of 2 and 4.

Age 3

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends talking with a dentist if your child’s thumb or pacifier habit continues past the age of 3.