When an action is repetitively and automatically carried out it is deemed as a habit. There are many oral habits such as finger biting, thumb sucking, finger sucking, tongue thrusting, lip sucking, lip biting, breathing through the mouth, bruxism etc. that can cause detrimental consequences on the dentoalveolar structures. Some habits depending on the intensity, degree and action per day can have destructive effects on oral functioning. Generally, habits such as thumb sucking and finger sucking stop at the age of 5 years and do not necessarily warrant a treatment. But dental changes as a result of such habits have to be corrected immediately once the habit has stopped. Tongue thrusting is usually as a result of delayed development of swallowing patterns. Some of the damaging effects of thumb sucking are:
- Anterior open bite
- Inclination of lower and upper incisors
- Posterior crossbite
- Increased overjet
- Compensatory tongue thrust
- Class II malocclusion (as a result of tongue thrusting)
Dr. Renju Anil uses a combination therapy of counseling and appliances to provide corrective habit therapies. The patient is directly counseled and provided reminder therapies with a reward concept for displaying correct behaviour. Treatment with appliances may include tongue crib appliances that train the tongue to remain in its normal superior position. A progress report card is maintained to motivate patients towards correction. A punishment-based treatment approach is always avoided since it can prove as a deterrent to a child patient who may be afraid to come over for a dental visit. Oral habits are extremely distressing but can prove to be a great source of embarrassment if not broken. Dr. Renju Anil plays the role of a philosopher, guide, and friend to parents and children alike to break damaging oral habits. Most treatments performed are initially non-invasive. It is only when these dont work that patients are requested to pursue invasive orthodontic treatments.