A thumb crib is a dental appliance used to stop a child from sucking their thumb. While thumb-sucking is a normal and acceptable habit in infants and toddlers, a child should stop sucking their thumb by the time they’re five years old.
What Happens If a Child Keeps Sucking Their Thumb?
Prolonged thumb-sucking can have surprisingly serious consequences, particularly if the child sucks strongly and/or they suck their thumb a lot. Jaws in small children have relatively little calcium and a lot of blood. Consequently, the bones are softer and more malleable than are those of an adult.
Prolonged thumb-sucking can therefore eventually deform the bones around the front teeth. The deformity can cause an open bite, in which there is a gap between the top and bottom teeth when the mouth is closed. Thumb-sucking can also make the upper front teeth tip upward and flare out, and it can make the bottom front teeth move inward and back.
If the child stops sucking their thumb before their adult front teeth grow in, the deformity may eventually correct itself. If they don’t, the deformity may become lasting.
What is a Thumb Crib?
A thumb crib is more formally known as a fixed palatal crib. It is a special kind of brace that is attached to a particular area of the mouth. The whole apparatus is largely hidden from view. The wires in the device prevent the child from touching their gums or the roof of the mouth. It also makes thumb-sucking uncomfortable and unpleasant, so it soon encourages the child to break the habit.
Most youngsters wear the thumb crib for nine to twelve months. That’s long enough to both break the habit and correct any deformations caused by the thumb-sucking. For example, it typically takes four to six months to straighten any front teeth shoved out of alignment by thumb-sucking.
What’s Involved in Getting a Thumb Crib?
The best age to get a thumb crib is around six – when the baby teeth have started to loosen, but the adult teeth have not yet emerged. During the first visit, our orthodontist will ask about the child’s thumb-sucking. The child’s teeth will also be examined to see if there are any problems with bite or alignment.
If the orthodontist believes that the child needs a thumb crib, they will take jaw X-rays, dental photographs and clay impressions of the teeth. They will use such dental records to make the crib. During a subsequent visit, the thumb crib will be installed.
Schedule a Consultation for Your Child Today
If you are concerned about your child’s thumb-sucking habit, bring your child to Ragan Orthodontics. We have three convenient Dallas-area locations. Our team of professionals will be your guide as you encourage your child to stop thumb-sucking once and for all. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for your child.