We regularly use treatments known as habit breakers that will help patients who have unsuccessfully tried to stop their habit and need a little assistance to finally quit.
Habit breakers do exactly what their name implies – they help patients break or stop a dysfunctional habit, like sucking thumbs or placing the tongue in between the front teeth. One of the most common habit breakers we use is the tongue crib, which is a fixed appliance that keeps your tongue positioned posteriorly and also keeps you from resting your thumb on the roof of your mouth. Usually the habit stops within days, but the appliance remains in the mouth for approximately six months in order to make sure the practice has completely ended. Very often, in cases where the patient has an open bite due to the habit, the bite will deepen spontaneously after treatment with a habit breaker.
Another commonly occurring parafunctional habit is bruxism or grinding of the teeth. Moving the jaws back and forth or sideways while sleeping has the detrimental effect of wearing down your teeth. It also places stress on the facial muscles and can be associated with frequently occurring headaches, muscle aches, ear pain and other symptoms of temporomandibular joint disease (a.k.a. “TMJ”). A nightguard can help as it creates a barrier that will keep you from damaging your teeth and acts as a cushion that will help reduce the stress and relax the muscles and the joint.