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| Habits in Clinton









Various types of habits can affect alignment of the teeth and growth of the jaws. Habits should be stopped early or the teeth and jaws may become so severely affected that correction is very difficult and may require surgery.

Thumb or finger sucking habits are common in young children and can cause protruding teeth, open bites and crossbites if not corrected. Dr. Rushing does not usually attempt to interrupt a thumb or finger habit before 5 years of age. It is best to completely ignore the habit, because scolding or ridiculing a child is not effective and may be harmful in other ways. Children will also use habits to get attention if they feel they are being ignored. If the habit continues past age five it is usually necessary to intervene. The most effective method of stopping a thumb or finger sucking habit is to place an appliance called a crib which interferes with the habit and causes the child to discontinue it.

Tongue habits can cause severe problems in the developing mouth of a growing child and also in the mouth of an adult. The most common tongue habit is protrusion of the tongue when swallowing, and this is commonly called a "tongue thrust." Young patients can learn to swallow properly, but older patients find it much more difficult. 

An anterior tongue thrust in a young patient can prevent vertical eruption of the front teeth and cause an anterior open bite. It can also push the front teeth forward and cause protrusion and spacing of the teeth. A patient can also have a lateral tongue thrust which prevents  vertical eruption of the posterior teeth, and this type of bite is usuall very difficult to correct. If habits continue after the teeth have been corrected there is a strong probability that the teeth will be forced back toward their original positions.

Below are before and after photographs of patients with habits that we have corrected:


JT, 7 years old, had an anterior open bite and a tongue thrust. We placed "tongue spikes" on the lower incisors and gave her tongue training exercises. The incisors erupted and closed the bite in 6 months. We later placed braces to complete her treatment:


                      JT Before                                 JT with tongue spikes                                     JT Final

CL, 7 years old, had anterior and posterior crossbites, and she also had a tongue thrust. We treated her with a palatal expander folowed by "tongue spikes" on the lower incisors. The incisors erupted and closed the bite anteriorly, but she developed a lateral tongue thrust which opened the bite posteriorly. The bite was finally corrected with braces:


                            CL Initial                                      CL Before Braces                                     CL Final

JT, 9 years old, had an anterior crossbite and a tongue thrust. She was treated with "tongue spikes" and tongue training exercises for 14 months:


JT Before                                                         JT After

CW, 14 years old, had her anterior open bite and tongue thrust corrected with "tongue spikes" and tongue training exercises followed by braces:


                            CW Initial                                      CW With Spikes                                      CL Final

JR, 13 years old, had a posterior lateral tongue thrust which was corrected with habit appliances and braces:


JR Initial                                                         JR Final

Clinton Dentist | Habits. Evertt Rushing is a Clinton Dentist.

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