An Amazing Alternative To Dentures Why Wait To Start Smiling?
Now there is an amazing solution for you, even if you are missing all your teeth. Nobel Biocare permanent implants are the brilliant alternative to dentures.
They can replace everything you’ve lost- from a beautiful smile to taste, to the ability to eat whatever you want.
Everyone deserves a beautiful smile. Today there is no need to settle for anything less.
Dental implants caused a revolutionary change in dentistry. Implants are man-made replacements for the tooth roots that have been lost. They behave exactly like real roots- even bonding naturally with the jaw bone. Millions of people all over the world enjoy Nobel Biocare implants. This simple procedure can transform your confidence and improve your looks.
“My greatest experience yet”
Brigitta had full dentures that unfortunately didn’t fit her at all. The turning point came when Brigitta had dental implants placed. Full fixed bridges were fitted to both jaws. Brigitta was overwhelmed by the result.
“it is fantastic to be able to feel such happiness at my age.”
Brigitta says with great relief.
Choose the best solution for your individual condition:
With this treatment, your new teeth will look and feel just like your natural ones. People will find it hard to tell the difference. Your new teeth are securely fastened to the implants and are only removable by your dentist.
The overdenture is securely fixed on top of at least two implants. The denture will be removable for cleaning and oral hygiene but is quite different from a conventional denture, because it provides retention in the mouth, functioning more like natural teeth.
Why dental implants?
- Preserves facial structure- helps prevent bone loss
- Helps you look younger
- Allows you to eat whatever you want, not what you have to
- Your ability to taste may improve
- Allows you to speak and laugh naturally
- Life-long solution
- Improved quality of life
With Nobel Biocare implants, you never have to be embarrassed about your teeth again. You can eat and behave completely normally.
In fact, new teeth can add more than looks and function in your life. Again and again, we find that a beautiful smile makes a difference to self-esteem. People who’ve changed from ordinary dentures to Nobel Biocare solutions describe their experience as immensely satisfying.
Ask your dentist about the ways in which Nobel Biocare can help you.
Keep looking younger
When you lose your teeth, your jawbone can shrink – making you look older. Implants help prevent this process.
Eat whatever you want
Like natural teeth, your new teeth are strong, stable, and secure, so you can comfortably eat all your favorite foods.
A life-long solution
Nobel Biocare dental Implants are long-lasting solution- often for life.
A happier life
Beautiful new teeth can give you back the confidence you may have lost. They can transform your daily life!
Braces Giving You A Reason To Smile!
Braces are common orthodontic treatment.
What do they do?
Braces correct and align improperly positioned teeth by gently straightening them.
Why is treatment important?
Crowded, crooked or protruding teeth are more difficult to clean thoroughly and are vulnerable to gum disease. They can also lead to problems with bite and jaw alignment.
Today braces come in many different styles. Options include transparent, tooth-colored, multi-colored or gold braces.
Both adults and children can benefit from straight teeth and beautiful smiles!
Please ask us for more information on BRACES!
Bridges Is Something Missing From Your Smile?
Bridges are finishing touch!
What are they?
A bridge is an artificial replacement for a lost tooth or teeth. It may be used in combination with dental implants, crowns or inlays.
Why is it important?
It is important to replace lost teeth to prevent healthy teeth from shifting out of position, which can lead to further tooth loss. In addition, your ability to chew and your nutrition may be compromised if you are missing teeth.
How is it done?
Bridges may be secured to neighboring teeth by crowns or inlays, or mounted on dental implant. The procedure usually involves a local anesthetic and two office visits.
BRIDGES can restore your smile.
Crowns If Your Teeth Have Been Weakened…
Crowns can restore them!
What are Crowns?
Your natural crown is the part of your tooth visible above the gum. A replacement crown is a cover (much like a thimble) placed over a weakened or decayed tooth.
What do they do?
Crowns, usually made out of porcelain or metal alloys, strengthen and protect your teeth, as well as enhance your smile.
How durable are they?
Crowns are extremely durable and require only the same care as your own teeth.
Talk to us today for more information on CROWNS.
Could You Be Suffering From Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD)?
Facial and Jaw Pain?
Limited Jaw Opening?
What you should know about Temporomandibular Disorders.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS OF TMD/TMJ
Most people don’t think to mention the pain in their facial muscles or jaw joints to their dentists. Yet such pain is a common symptom of TMD (Temporomandibular Disorders) or otherwise known as TMJ. TMJ refers to temporomandibular joints but it is also a common name for a disorder that affects the facial muscles and joints that connect the lower jaw to the skull. A more recent designation for this condition is TMD (Temporomandibular Disorders). This condition causes pain on both sides of the forehead and sometimes in the neck as well.
Other symptoms of TMD may include jaw pain, biting/chewing difficulty or discomfort, reduced ability to open or close the mouth and popping/clicking of the jaw joints during opening and closing. The National Institute of Health estimates that 5 to 10 percent of Americans suffer from TMD severe enough to warrant treatment. TMD can be caused by tension in the muscles that move the jaw, the way your upper and lower teeth fit together (bite) or in some cases the jaw joints. Any problem that prevent this complex system of muscles, teeth and joints from working properly may result in TMD.
If it is suspected that you suffer from this type of problem, the neuromuscular dentist may ask if you have any of the symptoms shown below.
In addition, they will be looking for a number of signs in the condition of your bite (how your upper and lower teeth fit together), and your posture that might aid in diagnosis. An imperfect bite may play a role in these conditions and the dentist experienced in treating them may resolve the problem. However, diagnosing these problems can be very difficult at times and may require the collective efforts of your dentist and the other health care professionals. These may include your physician, physical therapist, chiropractor, or massage therapist, to name just a few.
Do you suffer from any of these?
Pain in the face and jaw
Jaw joint pain
Pain in the muscles of the jaw
Biting/chewing difficulty or discomfort
Jaw joint noise or clicking
A change in how the upper and lower jaw fit together
Limited jaw opening
Pain in and around ear
THE DENTIST’S DIAGNOSIS
The neuromuscular dentist will consider all of the information gathered by taking your history and doing a physical examination of your teeth, head and neck. When indicated, they may conduct a series of tests using non-invasive electronic instruments. Data from these tests will indicate to your dentist whether your bite is a major contributing factor to your problem and will help rule in or rule out your bite as the cause of, or major component of, your condition.
If these tests show that your habitual bite is a probable cause of your condition or pain, the neuromuscular dentist then identifies a jaw position while the jaw muscles are in a relaxed state. This jaw position and the corresponding new bite is called neuromuscular occlusion or physiologic occlusion.
An orthotic is a custom made appliance fabricated of plastic that can be worn over or fixed to the teeth to maintain the neuromuscularly derived bite position. At this point, nothing is done to permanently alter your teeth or your bite. You typically wear this plastic appliance for a prescribed period of time to verify that this new jaw position solves or reduces the problem. If it does, it has proven that the imperfect bite was the cause of the problem and you may elect to go on and have your natural teeth treated to permanently maintain that new bite position.
If symptoms are not substantially alleviated, the bite position is most likely not the cause of the problem. Your natural bite has not been altered and other causes may then be further explored. (Although this latter circumstance is possible, it is not likely since the dentist will only proceed with an orthotic if there are strong indications that the bite is a major factor in your problem.)
The Simple Way To A Perfect Smile
Replacing Missing Teeth Beautifully
Why wait to start smiling?
Whether You’re Missing One or Several Teeth- Nobel Biocare Can Help
Everyone deserves a beautiful smile. With the tremendous advances in esthetic dentistry, there’s no need to put up with anything less. With Nobel Biocare implants, crowns and bridges, missing teeth can now be easily, comfortably, and permanently replaced.
Besides functioning properly, the ideal replacement must look like a natural tooth, both to you and others. The solutions possible with Nobel Biocare implants and Procera ceramic crowns take advantage of the best esthetic tools possible in dentistry. Procera crowns and bridges look amazing and work just like your original teeth, they are nearly indistinguishable from your real teeth.
“Dental implants made me smile again. In an accident I lost three teeth. An implant-retained fixed bridge has enabled me to once again enjoy every day life. The impact is double to triple what I expected.”
Placing Nobel Biocare implants is typically quick and easy.
Perfect fit, perfect match
When coupled with Procera Crowns or Bridges, your new teeth are indistinguishable from your real teeth.
Eat whatever you want
Your dentist makes it possible to have new, fully functioning teeth, sometimes in as little as one hour. Implants are stable and secure, so you can comfortably eat all your favorite foods.
Metal-free – for a beautiful smile
Nobel Biocare Procera Crowns and Bridges are completely metal-free and will leave no ugly black lines.
Keep looking younger
When you lose your teeth, your jawbone can shrink-making you look older. Implants help prevent this process.
Save healthy teeth
With traditional methods, if you are missing a tooth, the teeth on either side of it are ground down to make a bridge. Implants often make that unnecessary. Implants do not compromise surrounding healthy teeth.
An answer for life
Nobel Biocare dental implants are the long- lasting solution- often for life.
One missing tooth
Here’s an example of how your dentist replaces a missing tooth, in this case with an implant and ceramic crown. It’s just one of the several options, so consult your dentist to find out the best solution for your individual condition.
The beautiful result
The new tooth should fit and function just like a natural tooth. Continue your usual dentl hygiene to keep both teeth and gums healthy.
Several missing teeth
Here’s an example how your dentist replaces three missing teeth. In this case, a fixed bridge- with all the teeth contained in one unit- is supported by dental implants.
This treatment is just one of several options, so consult your dentist to find the best solution for your individual condition.
The beautiful result
The new Procera bridge will handle all the pressure that your strong, natural teeth did. You can now eat whatever you like. Traditional partial dentures can’t offer the same stability or function, often limiting taste and restricting which foods you can eat.
“There was no discomfort at all. The procedure was pain-free and fast. There was no discomfort afterwards, whatsoever. My new teeth feel like a natural part of me. They also make me feel and act more naturally again- smiling with confidence, cheing on both sides like normal. I can definitely recommend this to others.”
Why dental implants?
Helps prevent bone loss
More conservative treatment option; no grinding down of healthy teeth.
Helps keep other teeth in position.
Improved quality of life.
With Nobel Biocare dental implants and Procera ceramic crowns, you no longer have to be embarrassed or worried about your teeth. In fact, new teeth can transform your self-esteem. Again and again, we find that a beautiful smile makes a real difference in people’s lives.
Ask your dentist about the ways in which Nobel Biocare can help you.
The Hidden Dangers Of Sleep Apnea & Snoring
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Apnea means to stop breathing. Sleep apnea refers to a condition wherein you stop breathing during sleep. Most of us know someone who snores during sleep. You may also know someone who has commented that their partner has stopped breathing during sleep for seemingly long periods- long enough to be frightening. While snoring is often made the subject of jokes or teasing, it could be an indication of a serious health problem. The severity and danger associated with sleep apnea ranges from snoring that irritates your partner to life-threatening medical conditions. If the apnea involves physical obstruction of the upper airway and/or snoring, it is sometimes referred to as Sleep Disorder Breathing (SDB). In here we’ll focus on Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) as it is the most common form of sleep apnea.
What Causes Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
OSA describes an effort to breath, but there is a physical obstruction of the airway causing apnea. It may be caused by a collapse of the soft tissue at the back of the mouth and in the throat, sometimes related to the inability to properly breathe through your nose. If the jaw is too small to accommodate the tongue, the tongue has a tendency to fall back, further restricting your airway. This constriction impedes airflow. As you inhale and exhale, the soft tissue of the throat vibrates and causes the sound of the snoring. This tissue gets flabbier over time. In more severe cases, when apnea occurs- you literally stop breathing for 10 seconds or more. When breathing stops, blood oxygen levels fall forcing the heart to work harder, causing blood pressure to rise. While this may disturb the sleep cycle, the person often does not fully wake up but feels tired in the morning. Some of the conditions associated with OSA include high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, gastric reflux, depression and diabetes. While OSA contributes to these conditions, they in turn worsen OSA forming a vicious cycle. It is important to note that you don’t have to be overweight to have OSA.
What Are The Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?
The more signs and symptoms include:
Waking up tired
If a young child habitually mouth breathes or exhibits any of these indications, it is especially important to have them evaluated as these conditions have a significant negative impact on development and form of oral-facial structures. It is also interesting to note that some studies have shown that sleep disordered breathing is common among children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
How Is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?
Because of the potential serious aspects of sleep apnea, you should start with a medical examination and evaluation of your condition. Talk to your dentist who can refer you to a qualified physician with specialized training in the field of sleep medicine. Evaluation can range from an examination of your airway to an overnight sleep called a Polysomnogram (PSG), followed by treatment that could be in tandem with your dentist.
What Are Some Options for Treating OSA?
In some cases, surgery to remove obstructions or to stiffen the flabby throat tissue may be recommended for treatment. For cases of severe sleep apnea, Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) is often the first choice for treatment. This means wearing a mask while sleeping that is connected to a small device that maintains a positive air pressure, pushing air into your lungs. However, although painless and effective, some patients and their partners do not tolerate sleeping with the CPAP machine very well. In those cases, and in many moderate cases, oral appliances are often a good choice.
What is the Dentist’s Role in Treatment?
Properly trained dentists can make custom fitted oral appliances that are worn over the teeth at night to prevent the jaw from falling back during sleep, keeping the airway open. There are many designs of such appliances, and your dentist will recommend the best one for your situation. They can be very valuable in moderate cases of OSA or when the patient cannot tolerate CPAP.
If you or someone you know exhibits any of the symptoms listed here, be sure to bring it to our attention. We can provide further information for you about this potential serious condition. You could save a life!
Are your child’s teeth well protected?
Not without Dental Sealants!
What are they?
Dental sealant is a thin coating, (white, clear or lightly tinted) that is applied to the biting surfaces of back teeth to protect the deep grooves where cavities often begin.
Sealants prevent cavities by providing a barrier that prevents acid-producing bacteria and plaque from settling into tiny crevices and causing decay.
Less expensive than restorative work, sealants can be a real money saver too!
Application is relatively fast, requires no anesthetic and painless. The benefit last for years.
Orthodontics and Dental Health
Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry concerned with the proper positioning of teeth. Although nice looking, straight teeth do improve our appearance, there is more to orthodontics than a pleasing smile. This describes new advances in orthodontics and how a proper bite relates to your overall health.
When most people think of orthodontics, they imagine children and metal mouths. This image is changing, however. Today, adult orthodontics is one of the fastest growing areas in dentistry. The American Association of Orthodontics estimates that one out of every five of the nation’s 4.5 million current orthodontic patients is an adult. This is double the number a decade ago. Orthodontics is no longer a children’s specialty.
Modern orthodontists are also finding new ways to position teeth. Unlike the fixed metal braces which are cemented to teeth, functional appliances are removable devices which alter the growth of the jaw bone itself. Orthodontics (which literally means “straight teeth”) then overlap with orthopedics, which is the branch of medical science that is concerned with bone.
Certainly appearance is one important reason to undergo orthodontic treatment. Since our self concept is so closely tied to our face, straight teeth can positively affect our self esteem.
Orthodontics can also have an important impact on our overall health. Teeth which are misaligned and crowded can cause decay, infection, gum disease and tooth loss. But the potential problems go beyond the mouth. A bite which is uneven can cause many seemingly unrelated health problems, such as headaches, dizziness, ringing of the ears, or neck, shoulder and back pain. Orthodontics can be very important to your overall health and well-being.
A Stable Bite
Many people do not realize the importance of a stable bite. When the upper and lower teeth close, they should fit neatly together like the gears of a machine. When together, the teeth of the upper and lower jaws should form a stable base. Isn’t it aggravating to sit at a table which consistently rocks on an uneven floor? When your bite is uneven, it is the muscles which become aggravated. Your chewing muscles must work harder to bring the teeth firmly together. The extra work makes them tired and strained. Eventually, they become painful, and can cause problems in your neck, back, head and ears.
The teeth, then, are the tip of the iceberg. Orthodontics is concerned not only with the teeth, but also with the jaw bones, the jaw joints, and the chewing muscles. The aim of orthodontic correction is to establish a stable bite in which the muscles and bones are working in harmony.
Muscles Move Teeth
Muscles play a key role. Muscles are nature’s living orthodontic appliances. They are stronger than teeth. Teeth are set in bone and are pliable and everchanging. Teeth can be molded and moved by muscles. The specific muscles we are speaking of are those of the lips, tongue and cheeks. Ideally, a balance of forces occurs between the lips or cheeks on the outside, the tongue on the inside, and the teeth against each other. Anything which throws this balance off will affect the growth and position of the teeth.
The same plastic quality of bone that permits misdirected forces to deform the teeth and jaws can be used by orthodontists to correct them. One of the newer developments in orthodontics is the use of functional appliances to properly align the jaws. Basically, functional appliances work with the muscles attached to the jaw and surrounding structures. By applying various forces to these muscles, they direct the growth and development of the jaw bone and teeth. For instance, if your lower jaw is too small in relation to your upper jaw, a functional appliance might be used to expand it so that a better fit can be created between the upper and lower teeth.
The dental term for a bad bite is “malocclusion”. There are three different classifications of malocclusion:
Class I occurs when the jaw line up correctly. However, orthodontics may still be necessary if the teeth are crowded, crooked, or too far apart.
Class II is when the lower jaw is too far back in relationship to the upper jaw.
Class III is when the lower jaw protrudes beyond the upper jaw.
Correction At Any Age
Because living bone tissue is constantly being rebuilt and replaced throughout life, there is no age limit on orthodontics. Typically, adult orthodontic treatment will take longer than with a child because the bone growth is slower. So long as the gum tissues and the boney support is healthy, however, it is never too late. In fact, orthodontic correction is one way to correct a bad bite while maintaining your natural teeth.
Take time to understand your health. Your health is your most priceless possession. It is worth the investment!
Tired of dark, silver fillings?
Check out Esthetic Inlays!
What are they?
Esthetic inlays are natural looking, tooth colored fillings.
Are they durable?
Esthetic inlays can be made from either composite or porcelain and are now strong enough to be placed in back teeth. You can even have your old silver fillings replaced with esthetic inlays.
What are the advantages?
Esthetic inlays offer you all the benefits of a filling, while maintaining the natural beauty of your smile. Replacing old silver fillings with esthetic inlays can help you regain that natural beauty for years to come.
Let us know if you would like a more natural smile!
Your Teeth And Your Airway
What have my teeth got to do with my airway?
Not very much, BUT, your airway can have a major impact on your teeth. Having good, open upper airway and being able to breathe freely through your nose with your mouth closed provides the most efficient means of breathing and obtaining oxygen. It is also extremely important to the development of a well-formed oral environment, including the spacing and alignment of the teeth and jaws. Chronic mouth breathing can lead to a number of problems.
Why is mouth breathing a problem?
Brief periods of mouth breathing such as having a cold or a transient allergy do not have a significant impact on your dental health. However, long-term (chronic) mouth breathing can have a major influence on the way that the dental arches develop and can affect the alignment of the teeth. This is most important in the early, developmental years of life and if untreated then, can carry into adulthood. A number of experts in the field define chronic mouth breathing as that having lasted four months or more.
If it’s developmental, why should I worry about it at my age?
First, it is important for you to understand so if you have young children or young loved ones you can watch for symptoms of chronic mouth breathing. Second, if you had the problem during your developmental years and it was not corrected at that time, it may be a major complicating factor in any significant dental work that you may need or consider as an adult. In addition, if you have been a chronic mouth breather, it may contribute to one or more medical conditions known as Sleep Disorder Breathing.
What are the dental problems that mouth breathing causes?
Constantly breathing through the mouth leads to a forward head posture and a forward tongue position. The tongue is a strong muscle that often causes the front teeth of a mouth breather to flare outward.
In severe cases, a person’s front teeth do not come together- a condition dentists call an “open bite”. Further, because the tongue is not enclosed in its proper place between the dental arches, the muscle forces of the cheeks dominate and cause the roof of the mouth to form in a narrow “V” shape rather than a normal wide, flat shape. This in turn is often the cause of lack of space for the teeth to be aligned properly.
What can be done to correct the effects of mouth breathing?
It is very important to first have medical treatment to eliminate the cause of the restricted airway, this might involve treatment for allergy, infection or swollen turbinates, or could require surgical removal of the adenoids and / or tonsils. If the medical cause of the problem is not corrected prior to dental treatment, the chance of a relapse of the dental treatment can be high. Once the cause is treated the dentist evaluates each case and decides which dental treatment will be most effective.
Restricted upper airway can have a negative effect on the growth and development of the face and jaw. Most of the growth in these structures occur before puberty. For this reason the earlier the condition is treated, the easier the correction is because of the elastic nature of the tissues.
By the age of 18-20, bone growth and development is largely competed and treatment becomes more difficult.
How is the dental problem corrected?
Once any underlying medical problem has been treated, the dentist will most likely use orthodontic techniques to correct the bite. To correct the narrow, “V” shaped palate, palatal expansion may be necessary. There are different techniques to accomplish this. In mature patients, surgically assisted expansion is sometimes used. The speed with which this is done will depend on things such as the age of the patient and the particular circumstances of each case. In effect, expanding the palate creates more space for the teeth and other types of orthodontic treatment are then used for tooth alignment. Because the top of the mouth is also the bottom of the nose, palatal expansion frequently also improves nasal breathing to some degree.
What about sleep disorder breathing (SDB)?
Patients with restricted upper airway often suffer from SDB. This is a term that would include such disorders as heavy snoring and obstructive sleep apnea.
While dentists are often part of the medical team treating these disorders, these are primarily medical problems and may have a far reaching impact on your health. They should be evaluated by the proper medical professional. It is mentioned here because dentists often see symptoms of restricted upper airway while doing routine dental exams and may bring them to the patient’s attention.
What are the symptoms and causes of restricted upper airway?
Allergic patients have puffiness and dark coloration beneath the eyes and may have a long, narrow face and turned up nose. The main symptom is that the mouth is held open most of the time.
Abnormal tongue function and position is usually a result of restricted airway. In children you can often see the tongue postured between the teeth.
Mouth breathing patients often snore. The open mouth is the result of a restriction of the nasal or upper airway causing you to open your mouth to get sufficient airflow to your lungs. The restriction can be caused by a number of things such as chronic allergy, deviated nasal septum, enlarged adenoids or tonsils, or enlargement of structures in your upper airway called turbinates
Your Child’s First Visit
Has your child had that first dental appointment yet?
First visits are important!
When should it be?
It is recommended to schedule the first dental visit after the eruption of the first tooth or no later than the first birthday.
Isn’t that a little young?
Definitely not! Children who see a dentist from an early age are less likely to fear dental visits or develop a cavity. Preventive screenings may be all that is required. This valuable visit gives the dentist an opportunity to counsel parents on feeding methods and thumb and finger habits, and to provide other helpful information on dental trauma, pacifier usage and home care techniques.
How can I prepare my child?
We suggest allowing your child to attend a hygiene visit with a parent or sibling to become familiar with the office and staff. You can also practice playing dentist at home, encourage regular tooth care and speak about the dentist as a friend.
Please talk to us about booking your child’s first appointment.
Thumb And Finger Sucking
What Causes Thumb/ Finger Sucking Habits?
After an infant is born the activities of the mouth quickly become the center of his/her universe! It is through the natural sucking action that a great deal of pleasure is derived as the child ingests the milk from the mother’s breast and/or the formula from a bottle. This natural and healthy sucking urge (which provides the infant with pleasure and sustainment of life) may generalize to other objects within the infant’s environment. The infant begins to experience pleasure by repeating the action of taking nourishment without getting such nourishment. Thus, the beginning of a habit has emerged. The most common objects associated with this behavior are the thumb and/or fingers.
Should I Be Concerned About Thumb/ Finger Sucking Habits?
Thumb/finger sucking habits are quite normal in infancy and early childhood. Many children experience pleasure from these habits for the first few years of life and then terminate them of their own volition. To call undue attention to these habits at this early age may do more harm than good.
However, it is important to understand that these habits may become excessive as time goes by. Three factors used to determine IF the habit is excessive are:
How hard is the thumb/finger being sucked when it is in the mouth?
How often during the day and night does this sucking act occur?
For how many years does the habit persist? (If the permanent teeth become affected, the concern intensifies).
Each of these three factors may vary in degree from person to person. Therefore, no clear-cut formula can be derived, BUT it is known that:
Intensity + Frequency + Duration
What Are The Reasons For Concern?
In addition to the known hygiene, psychological and social implications, certain dental aspects may also need to be considered. Whereas it is true that heredity does play an important role in the development of the structures of the face, EXCESSIVE thumb/finger sucking habits may have a profound impact on this development. They can create a disturbance of the relationship of the jaws and teeth:
The upper front teeth may be pulled outward and pushed upward by the thumb/finger. If this is severe, the upper jaw can become displaced forward which may contribute to a poor biting and chewing surface promotes a “bucked tooth” appearance.
The pressure of the thumb/finger resting n the lower front teeth may retard the growth of the lower jaw and crowd or tip the lower front teeth.
The bony support of the upper teeth may be displaced upward, leaving an “open bite” (when the back teeth are brought together, a space remains between the upper and lower teeth).
The tongue may come forward during the production of certain speech sounds to compensate for this thumb/finger-induced open bite. The tongue is encouraged to fill the gap, and lisping on certain speech sounds may result.
During the sucking act, the tongue is carried in a low and forward posture which may encourage the tongue push against the teeth during swallowing. A ”tongue thrust” swallow is thereby encouraged which may further contribute to malalignment of teeth (malocclusion).
The constant motion of the cheek muscles in the sucking action may begin to narrow the upper dental arch by collapsing it around the thumb/finger. This may contribute to a “crossbite” where the upper and lower jaws no longer fit in harmony.
with the thumb/finger in the mouth the lips remain in an open posture. Over time this can distort the appearance of the lips. The child may begin to rest with the lips open most of the time (even when the thumb/finger is not in the mouth). An open-lips resting posture is encouraged, and the child begins to have a ”mouth breather” look which detracts from his/her appearance. People unjustly associate dullness of intelligence with open-lips resting postures. In addition, the open lips posture and the low tongue posture may further contribute to the narrowness of the upper dental arch.
How Can A Parent Determine If Such A Habit Has Become Excessive?
The easiest way to determine if a sucking habit is excessive is to carefully observe the relationship of the teeth and jaws. This can be accomplished by asking the child to bring the BACK teeth together in his/her “normal” bite. If the observable impact on the teeth and jaws appears mild there is probably little to be concerned about. If the problem is moderate there may be reason for concern. If the problem appears severe there are definite reasons for concern!
At What Age Should One Become Concerned About Thumb/Finger Sucking Habits?
Thumb/finger sucking and other nonnutritive sucking habits represent a developmental delay if prolonged beyond four or five years of age. The three factors (intensity, duration, frequency) have to be considered in determining the degree of concern. If the sucking act is excessive, the sooner the problem is identified and addressed the better! During a child’s growth and development years, the structure has a remarkable ability to physiologically “rebound!” Whereas some parts of the thumb/finger-induced structural problems may still require orthodontic attention, certain structural components may be minimized by early cessation of these habits.
What About A Pacifier?
Pacifiers are not found in the child’s natural environment but are usually introduced and encouraged by the parent(s). the advantage a pacifier has over a thumb/finger is that it can be physically removed from a child’s environment! However, sometimes after the pacifier’s removal, the sucking habit is so engrained that the child turns to the thumb/finger to further satisfy this urge.
The same three variables (intensity, duration, frequency) also apply to pacifier sucking.
If I Am Suspicious That My Child’s Habit Is Excessive, What Can I Do?
One of the first steps is to be sure that your child visits a dentist regularly. Sometimes by merely expressing a concern to your child, the dentist can be instrumental in motivating your child to stop. However, some habits will continue to persist. In these cases, consult wit a Certified Orofacial Myologist for an evaluation. The Certified Orofacial Myologist is skilled in helping children (and adults) bring such habits under control in a very positive, non-threatening and uninvasive way.
What About Psychological Implications?
Contrary to belief, the cessation of a thumb/finger sucking habit with patient motivation and cooperation leaves no ill side effects or deep psychological scars. The Certified Orofacial Myologist is skilled in motivating people of all ages to WANT to bring these habits under control. The termination of such a habit can become a very positive and gratifying experience for the child!
However, if a person tries to stop a child’s thumb/finger sucking habit by using HUMILIATION, GUILT, PUNISHMENT and/or FORCE, definite psychological overtones may begin to surface.